The British film and TV industry has taken its first major steps to stamp out bullying and harassment and has introduced a set of wide-ranging guidelines to help. The plans, established by the British Film Institute (BFI) in association with BAFTA and a number of other organisations, have been supported by high-profile actors including Emma Watson and Gemma Arterton as well as A-list producers including Barbara Broccoli and Alison Owen.
The groups are launching a support hotline, run by the Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund, for anyone working in the film and TV business and are recommending specific measures including appointing two designated workers on and off set, preferably from all genders, to be trained to handle issues and allegations, ensure workers understand their rights and know how to seek help and support. They will encourage and support witnesses to step up and speak, and outlines how to report criminal activity.
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This comes as the British entertainment business has been rocked by a number of harassment and assault allegations. Last week, Deadline revealed that British authorities had received more allegations of sexual assault by Harvey Weinstein, taking the number of complaints to police in the UK to 14 allegations from nine women, while Scotland Yard is also investigating a number of allegations against Kevin Spacey.
In December, a survey organised by the Edinburgh International Television Festival, founded that the British TV industry was a “toxic” environment with companies paying only “lip service” to allegations of sexual harassment and bullying. British television presenter Anna Richardson, who was allegedly sexually assaulted by Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2000 during promotion for his film The Sixth Day, said that the industry had not learned its lesson in the wake of the Weinstein and Spacey scandals.
Beauty and the Beast and Harry Potter star Watson said the guidelines have been developed by people who understand the “subtleties of the hierarchy on a film set” and “what it’s like to work strange, unsociable hours”. “I hope these principles become second nature for everyone; they are not just about protecting individuals but are also an important step in embracing a greater diversity of voices – and eventually having an entertainment industry that actually represents the world we live in,” she added.
Watson was supported by Their Finest star Arterton, Doctor Who star Jodie Whittaker and Humans’ Gemma Chan. Meanwhile, producers including James Bond producer Broccoli, Suffragette producer Owen and I, Daniel Blake producer Rebecca O’Brien agreed that these plans were a “major step forward”.
Broccoli, who runs Eon Productions, said: “I wholeheartedly welcome and support these principles and guidelines. This is a major step towards creating a workplace culture of respect and equality for everyone within our industry”, while O’Brien, who runs Sixteen Films, added: “In our industry we absolutely need to stamp out any abuse of power and these principles provide a starting point for doing that. It’s essential for us to be pro-active in terms of confronting bullying and harassment and to change the culture so that all our workers feel safe and secure.”
Monumental Pictures Founder Owen, who has previously discussed working with Weinstein, said: “The principles enshrine what should be obvious – that’s what makes them so important. It’s vital to use this key moment in our culture to make things concrete and tangible, so there can be absolutely no doubt that bullying and harassment will not be tolerated. I hope the Principles will contribute to making people feel safer and more secure in the workplace.”
In January, BAFTA Chair Jane Lush revealed that the organisation was looking to stamp out “pernicious” working practices that “thrive in outdated power structures”.
BAFTA Chief Executive Amanda Berry said, “These Principles and Guidance are the result of a monumental cross-industry effort in the face of some difficult truths. BAFTA is committed to promoting excellence and creative collaboration in film, games and television, and we believe that everyone has the right to work in a safe professional environment. It is essential that there is a shared understanding of respectful, inclusive working practices that enable everyone to succeed.”
BFI CEO Amanda Nevill, added: “The collective determination of so many of us, individuals and organisations, to make changes to create a better, safer working environment for everyone working in the screen industries has been extraordinary. It speaks volumes about the positivity at the heart of our industry, and I thank our many partners for their commitment, their invaluable expertise and the urgency they brought to this process to address this critical issue. This clear and simple guidance is for all, and in also becoming part of our Diversity Standards – which we strongly encourage all sections of the industry to adopt – it is an important step in becoming the industry I believe we all truly aspire to be: inclusive, fair, open and offering opportunity equally to everyone.”
The Eight Principles & Guidelines:
- Everyone is responsible for creating and maintaining an inclusive workplace that is positive and supportive.
- We recognise that harassment may be unlawful under the Equality Act 2010.
- Those of us who are employers accept our responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
- We do not tolerate bullying and harassment, including sexual harassment, and will ensure that processes are in place for the reporting and investigation of these serious issues.
- We recognise that bullying and harassment can have significant adverse impacts on the productivity, long-term health and well-being of affected people and we will work to eradicate them. This will mean providing adequate protection for complainants and victims, and, where bullying or harassment is found to have occurred, taking appropriate action against bullies or harassers.
- We value inclusivity, appreciate difference, welcome learning from others, and consider people equal without prejudice or favour. We build relationships based on mutual respect. We will all work to give and receive feedback in a constructive way, which we know will improve creativity and productivity.
- We understand that reporting bullying or harassment can be intimidating. We will respect confidentiality where possible and aim to make the process of reporting clear and straightforward. If anyone comes forward to report behaviour which might amount to bullying or harassment, we will endeavor to investigate objectively. Individuals who have made complaints of bullying and harassment or participate in good faith in any investigation should not suffer any form of reprisal or victimisation as a result.
- We will respect each other’s dignity, regardless of the seniority of our role in an organisation
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