The Anita Hill-led Hollywood Commission on Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality said Tuesday it has plans to develop a code of conduct, a response system and anti-bias training programs “to prioritize the protection of thousands of freelance entertainment industry workers who are not currently covered by existing workplace structures and HR departments.”
The plans are among the first initiatives to be announced by the commission almost exactly a year after it was formed in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. To date, the organization still doesn’t have a website or a direct telephone line.
A source familiar with the commission’s thinking said Tuesday there is “no specific timeline” for development of these plans, “but to borrow a famous phrase, ‘With all deliberate speed’ – i.e., as quickly as possible, but not so fast that we do a slap-dash job.”
The freelance initiative plans, announced via press release, “would offer these otherwise unprotected workers a comprehensive system for reporting, addressing, and resolving claims of harassment and other forms of bias. The Commission also intends to develop best practices for anti-bias training, and create a model code of conduct to help set behavioral expectations.”
Such a prioritization would exclude just about every union actor, writer and director whose guilds already have sexual harassment protocols in place, and nearly every employee of a studio, network, talent agency, trade association and record label – or any other industry employer that has a human resources department. A spokesperson for SAG-AFTRA said today that “President Gabrielle Carteris and national executive director David White work very closely with the Hollywood Commission and are supportive of their efforts and have no doubt that the actions they’re taking will further protect performers and others.”
Said Hill in the announcement: “While the Commission’s members have training and reporting systems already in place, there are still huge gaps that leave the thousands of freelancers who work in our industry unprotected. This is why it is essential that we confront the problem of workplace harassment and bias together. To achieve our goals of ensuring safe and respectful workplaces, eliminating sexual harassment, and advancing equality, we must ensure that everyone is protected.”
The source said that the freelancers the commission has in mind include independent creatives – actors, writers, etc. – who aren’t guild members, below-the-line crew who lack a union card, crew on independent productions, and those who work with the studios or other companies but aren’t formally employed by them. In addition, the programs would be available to those covered by an existing reporting system but for one reason or another don’t feel comfortable making use of it.