Starting this season, Tony Awards voters must complete unconscious bias training in order to vote in any categories.
The news, sent to voters Friday, requires members to take a free, online training session led by inclusion strategist Vernā Myers. The course is meant to teach viewers how to identify unconscious or implicit bias in their own decision-making processes and how to correct it, according to the course description.
The move follows the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, which instituted the same requirement for BAFTA voters in 2020, as part of a larger push toward equity and diversity.
The need for greater diversity on Broadway, and among voters, was emphasized at the most recent Tony Awards ceremony. Alongside the calls for greater inclusion from the night’s Tony Award winners, some viewed the awards snub of “Slave Play,” written by a Black playwright and featuring a majority Black cast, as a sign that the voters and the industry were too monolithic.
During the pandemic, several groups sprung up to address the lack of diversity on Broadway, particularly in producing, stage management and other behind-the-scenes work, as well as to create greater equity within rehearsal rooms. These groups have partnered with Broadway productions as well as larger organizations within the industry.
As the email notes, many Tony voters may have already taken an unconscious bias training course through their affiliated organizations, which include the Broadway League, American Theatre Wing and Actors’ Equity, among others. This will be viewed as completing the requirement.
Voters must self-attest that they have completed the training by March 1, 2022. Dates have not yet been announced for the Tony Awards voting period nor for the ceremony itself.