Elizabeth Rowe Lawsuit Settles And We’re No Closer To Change Than When Everything Started

Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) Principal Flute, Elizabeth Rowe, has settled her case alleging sex-based pay discrimination. Both parties entered mediation in December 2018 and at the time, the concern was any settlement may have a nondisclosure agreement attached. It turns out, that concern was justified.

Adaptistration People 190News of a settlement was released last week and a joint statement indicates both parties are satisfied with the outcome and all details will remain confidential.

While it is certainly good news to see an agreement that is mutually satisfying to all parties, the confidentiality clause means there will be little hope for the field to use this experience as a starting point for a larger public discussion.

It should come as no surprise to anyone if this topic doesn’t show up on upcoming service organization conference agendas.

The missed opportunity here is the potential for creating a set of best practices that help prevent bias and demand the processes used to determine individual agreement terms for is free from implicit bias and subject to routine oversight.

While I would love nothing more than to be wrong, this is likely the latest in a series of missed opportunities.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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