LA Phil shakes up talent and equality

LA Phil shakes up talent and equality


norman lebrecht

September 13, 2021

LA Philharmonic CEO Chad Smith has rolled out the rest of his leadership team.

Emanuel Maxwell comes in as Chief Talent & Equity Officer, Summer Bjork is promoted to Chief of Staff and Daniel Song to Chief Operating Officer.

Maxwell, who started work last month, will ‘continue to build diversity and inclusion across the organization’.


  • anon says:

    I studied the wrong thing in the conservatory, I should’ve studied diversity.

    How hard can it be to be a successful chief diversity officer?

    “I need more Blacks here, and gimme some Latinx too. Phew, that was a long work day.”

    • Hayne says:

      Sorry, not nearly enough CRT.

    • Monsoon says:

      People here constantly ridicule attempts by orchestras and opera companies to be more diverse and inclusive; at the same time, they lament declining ticket sales and a complete lack of youth engagement with classical music. Have you ever thought that maybe there’s a connection? Younger generations are getting more and more diverse. Of course they’re not interested in an art form where almost all of the composers are white men, the artistic leads are white, and the senior leadership on the management side is also white.

      Some orchestras understand that if they want to exist in 30 years, they need to be a lot more intentional with who they hire.

      The BBC had a great story on this recently and why meritocracy is B.S.:

      • Adam Wu says:

        Why discriminate against white men ‘Monsoon’?

      • Stanley Atwood says:

        Your comment is both highly offensive and unbecoming to a minority woman such as yourself. Your personal shortcomings and failings are no excuse to project your inadequacies.

        “Of course they’re not interested in an art form where almost all of the composers are white men, the artistic leads are white, and the senior leadership on the management side is also white.”

        No white person (male or female) has ever hurt you otherwise you would have explicitly stated it in your multiple comments. Also, this blog is run openly by a WHITE MALE who I believe is heterosexual. Norman allows you to post without any censorship on multiple topics NUMEROUS times. Thus, you are NOT oppressed and have no standing to hate anyone. Look inside yourself and find the good and get out into the world. Tired of the leftist hate for no reason serving no legitimate purpose! Good luck!

      • mike says:

        Guess what, easy fix, do blind auditions. And include really good composers, of which there are many, that are not white. Problem is, they have to be just as good and culturally speaking classical music was white. Culturally speaking R&B music is black which is why they are better at it.

    • Sir David Geffen-Hall says:

      Just remember. US Census data predicts that white people will be in the minority by 2050.

      Then we will need you guys to apply for these D&I jobs.

      Just be patient.

      • Louis J. says:

        One never hears of whites barred from black organizations who desperately need to be more inclusive when it comes to white people.

        • George Neidorf says:

          In 1959 the San Francisco musicians union was segregated. I, a white male, was refused membership in the Black union. I wanted to join because the dues were cheaper. The musicians weren’t segregated working with each other, just in the union. I was never refused work in Black bands. In 2013, in Pensacola, Fl. I was told that I couldn’t play in a Black church on the grounds that “the congregation wouldn’t understand.” As Jimmy Rushing sang, “It’s the same old South.”

    • Mark Hanson says:

      So great that now people will be hired based on color as a major factor…. So sorry Sam,you’re super qualified and we’d love to hire you, but you aren’t black. Enjoy unemployment. #causefairness

    • CA says:

      It’s just the latest bandwagon. I’m so over it.

      • mike says:

        I’m down with classical music all together, they’ve lost their minds in the States. They mask opera singers in the States. Insane people are running the show.

    • Bill says:

      Might be easier to say that you want those things than to actually find them. If it’s as easy as you think, maybe you should grab one of those cushy jobs and rake in the shekels…

    • Lin says:

      The Chief Talent & Equity Officer’s first act should be to replace the white Chief Executive Officer Chad Smith.

    • MacroV says:

      Actually, anything you studied would probably have had better career prospects.

  • drummerman says:

    His background indicates no experience in the arts, nor with any type of nonprofit business. We wish him well.

    • jgb says:

      Honestly, none of the HR leaders (which is what this guy basically is) I have ever worked with at multiple large/world famous classical music organizations have had any background in the arts, and few of them had nonprofit experience either. Interestingly, this has also been true of the upper level financial officers.

  • David A. Boxwell says:

    But what about building “equity”?

    (It’s the third leg).

  • Fenway says:

    Look at Maxwell’s experience on LinkedIn, he is proud of cutting budgets and people. His last gig was working for a corporate food service company. Long live affirmative action….

  • Wise Guy says:

    A quick check on LinkedIn shows an incredibly thin resume, indicating yet another mere diversity hire:

    Its scary that someone with so little in terms of professional chops could be put in to such important roles at a supposed major symphony orchestra. He doesn’t even have a background in music that might help inform his role in hiring “talent”, as these cheeseballs are referring to his role. Hopefully he won’t break what’s working.

    • CA says:

      This is happening throughout the field with orchestras in America. I was recently flown thousands of miles to interview for a job which I was truly well qualified for (not tooting my horn) and they were “so excited” to receive my resume, they stated several times that I was the only one with this or that particular experience/qualification. I had hope. Who got hired? Someone with zero experience. “Significant experience as a manager” was a stated job requirement. It wasn’t listed as an “or equivalent.” The talent drain is too painful to watch.

    • H. Franklin says:

      It’s a black to fill a liberal space.

      It’s going to be far more funny to watch raunchy, white libs forced out of their own jobs. Anti-male, White, educated, experienced, trained, intelligent, etc.

      Look at the black newbies who are simply handed high-paying jobs over ANY RACE and see how fast the schools continue to devolve out of mere appeasement.

  • Von Carry-on says:

    Diversity officers are little more than a bandaid on an open wound.

  • Paul says:

    Rumor has it that as yet another chief is added the staff are escaping the toxic work environment in huge numbers, leaving no one to do the actual work.

  • Alank says:

    Maybe they need to start calling the English Horn a Lintinx Horn, and rename the French Horn, Afrohorn. As a bassoonist, I could start using the German or Italian version name for my instrument but that would get me in big trouble in some quarters. Trigger Alert: Just a pun joke, no offense intended

  • Freewheeler says:

    There needs to be more bald people in the L A Phil.

    • Fenway says:

      I could not agree more. And Mexicans, to better represent the LA demographic. There are plenty of trumpet players in mariachi bands.

  • Esther Cavett says:

    This was the job spec:
    ==The Chief Talent and Equity Officer (CTEO) is a key member of the Executive Team, reporting to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The CTEO will lead the strategic talent development of the organization’s prospective and current employees, serving as an ambassador and advocate for ensuring and improving diversity, equity, and inclusion within the organization. This role provides leadership and drives strategic efforts to nurture and broaden the talent pool and ensure the highest level of organizational performance.

    The CTEO will also have extensive interaction with the Board, including leadership of the Compensation Committee as well as the DEI Task Force and DEI Staff Council.


    Talent Development

    Prepare and supervise departmental budget and allocations for headcount, recruitment and retention of employees, track and inform the Executive Team on the impacts and ROI of workforce investments
    Develop and implement a comprehensive talent management strategy and function that includes talent acquisition strategy, new hire onboarding, internal and external development opportunities, workforce and workplace policies, training and development, performance management, succession planning, rewards and recognition, and employee engagement strategies
    Facilitate the interview and selection process, and execute negotiations with select candidates
    Create and maintain competitive compensation and benefits across the organization and conduct regular compensation studies around policies and best practices.
    Partner with members of the Executive Team to set performance metrics and goals for roles across the organization
    Oversee the health of the organization’s culture, protecting the positive contributions, identify and address talent and culture issues that detract from the organization’s mission, vision, and values
    Drive the strategic transformation of the organization’s culture, aligning with organization goals
    Lead change management and culture transformation initiatives across the organization
    Lead employee engagement efforts, including periodic assessments and interventions required to meet organizational metrics
    Identify employee needs and oversee the development of employee resource groups with the support of a task force and continuous information gathering/feedback

    Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

    Develop and implement DEI strategy as part of the overarching talent strategy, to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion are embraced by the organization in spirit and process
    Develop and implement diversity, equity, and inclusion bias recognition and training programs
    Foster meaningful relationships amongst employees with a focus and dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion
    Serve as leadership member of the DEI Staff Council
    Track and report metrics needed to ensure effective talent management decision making with diversity, equity, and inclusion as a fundamental pillar


    Ensure that all employees understand the organizational mission and priorities, organizational structure, policies, and practices and how each role contributes to organizational goals
    Drive multidisciplinary collaboration and build a culture of trust, transparency and belonging
    Encourage employees in achieving goals that align with the organization’s mission, vision, values, strategic vision
    Manage HR operations, employee data and the Human Resources side of the HRIS system, UKG Dimensions
    Plan and lead staff meetings and events
    Participate as a member of the Executive Team in addressing the longer term, strategic goals, and opportunities for the organization
    Other duties and projects as assigned


    Executive leadership experience in overseeing human resources, labor relations and diversity, equity and inclusion programs/initiatives
    Passion for and familiarity with music across all genres helpful
    Proven ability to successfully lead various key functions/departments, and lead, motivate, and mentor the teams to support
    Dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion within the staff and within the LA Phil community (audience, artists, young musicians, donors, community leaders, partners, etc.) a must
    Strong familiarity and understanding of legal matters related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, specifically federal and California law
    Ability to drive thought leadership around values and steward an organization’s culture
    Proven experience in helping individuals navigate professional relationships and resolve conflict
    Exceptional written and verbal communication skills, including demonstrated ability to successfully collaborate and communicate across populations and diverse experiences
    Ability to maintain confidentiality and handle sensitive situations with excellent judgment and discretion
    Ability to serve as an Administrator in the HRIS system; experience with KRONOS/UKG Dimensions a plus
    Ability to work evening and flexible hours across performance venues for concert duty as needed
    SHRM-SCP or SPHR certification, preferred
    Proficiency in a Spanish language fluency a plus

  • Lin says:

    The LA Lakers does not have a single Asian player on its roster, even though Asians make up 15% of Los Angeles’s population.

    The LA Lakers must take concrete steps to address its historical discriminatory practices, first, by hiring an Asian Diversity Officer.

    There are 19 members on its roster, 15% is 3, therefore the LA Lakers must immediately replace 3 members by 3 Asians players.

    Then, to rectify the historical wrong and structural racism, in the next 3 years, replace every single non-Asian member with an Asian player.


  • BigSir says:

    Having just received brochures from Arts Organizations in and near the (US) nation’s capital I see representation of the 13% in every single show. And a big step away from classical music at a large venue in Maryland. As much as I want to continue to support classical music, if the programming puts race first, I won’t.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    In ‘older’ times it used to be, “not what you know, but who you know”. These days it’s, “not what you know, but who you don’t know”.

  • Michael McGrath says:

    OK – but are they the right people for the jobs? Whether blue or grey or 5 foot 2 doesn’t interest me.

    Surely only the best will help the LAPhil prosper and serve its audiendeS!!!

  • Tom Clowes says:

    Is this a White supremacist website? It’s hard to tell based on the comments. Reminds me a great deal of Breitbart 6 years ago, which was “a platform for the alt right.”