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UK screen industries unite over rules to tackle harassment

UK screen industries unite over rules to tackle harassment
News
Jon Creamer
14 February 2018

Bafta and the BFI along with other UK screen organisations have created a set of principles and guidance to tackle bullying and harassment in the screen industries in the wake of the Weinstein scandal.

Organisations including BECTU, Directors UK, Equity, Pact, The Production Guild, Women in Film & TV, Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, UK Screen Alliance and UK Interactive Entertainment have also backed the guidelines.

Also, from April, a new Film and TV Support Line from the Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund will be set up, free of charge for anyone working in the film and television industry.
 
The Set of eight Principles cover a “shared responsibility to respect others, adopt a zero tolerance approach to bullying and harassment, adhere to the laws around equality and health and safety, protect victims and witnesses, respect confidentiality, ensure that rigorous processes are in place for reporting and underline the value of inclusivity.”

The principles are
1.       Everyone is responsible for creating and maintaining an inclusive workplace that is positive and supportive.
 
2.       We recognise that harassment may be unlawful under the Equality Act 2010.
 
3.       Those of us who are employers accept our responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
 
4.       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.
 
5.       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.
 
6.       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.
 
7.       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. 
 
8.       We will respect each other’s dignity, regardless of the seniority of our role in an organisation.
 
Other specific measures will be recommended including appointing two designated workers on and off set 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. The BFI and BAFTA will work with industry partners to offer training and advice for those with designated responsibility for dealing with bullying and harassment on-set, in film, TV or in games businesses.
 
The Film & Television Support Line which is being developed by the CTBF in partnership with the Production Guild and is also being supported by the BFI, will be open for the industry to call from April 2018.   The Film & TV Support Line has been created as an industry-wide source of independent and confidential help for people affected by a range of issues including bullying and harassment. It will be operated 24/7 by professionally trained staff with expertise and experience in supporting people facing different difficulties from harassment, to support for depression and anxiety, debt and money advice, specialist addiction counselling, bereavement counselling, legal advice and financial assistance.  Access to the Film & TV Support Line is free at the point of contact. Follow-up specialist support tailored to an individual’s needs will be available, dependent on financial circumstances and industry service criteria. The CTBF is inviting industry partners to support and promote the Film & TV Support Line. 

Emma Watson, actor and activist, said: “Led by the BFI and BAFTA, the industry has come together to agree these Principles and Guidance – 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.”
 
Margot James, Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, said “Everyone has the right to feel safe at work and people can only thrive when they operate in a respectful and tolerant environment so that they can make the most of their creative talents. I welcome the BFI's anti-bullying and harassment guidance and the collective efforts of the wider sector which is an important first step to ensure change.”
 
Amanda Nevill, BFI CEO, said: “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.” 
 
Caroline Waters, Deputy Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said “We’re pleased to see the BFI and BAFTA taking an important first step in addressing bullying and harassment across UK screen industries, ahead of our own recommendations for reform on harassment, specifically sexual harassment, due to be released next month. It’s vital we have safe and inclusive working environments for everyone.”
 
Amanda Berry, Chief Executive of BAFTA 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.”
 
Alex Pumfrey, CEO of the CTBF said: “Film and TV can be an amazing industry to work in. However, the horrifying revelations of harassment and abuse in our industry adds to the under-reported incidence of stress, anxiety, health and mental health issues, and financial difficulty that can affect anyone. As the charity supporting those working in film, cinema and TV, we know just how devastating these experiences can be for individuals, and damaging to our industry as a whole. We are pleased to be able to announce the opening of a new ‘Film & TV Support Line’ as a source of independent and confidential advice, free of charge, for all those working in any area of film, cinema and TV. With the backing of the BFI, The Production Guild and other supporting partners, this will be a vital resource for those in times of need – or who simply want a listening ear. We hope anyone from any area or role, and issues big or small, will get in touch. We want to help make a difference.”
 

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