The BFI’s Director of Culture and Inclusion, Jen Smith, has been seconded to become the interim CEO of the Independent Standards Authority (ISA), a new organisation led by Creative UK and UK Time’s Up formed to strengthen efforts to tackle bullying and harassment.

Time’s Up UK has developed the ISA in consultation with the creative industries, led by Caroline Norbury OBE, Chief Executive of Creative UK. It is designed to ensure that people experiencing bullying and harassment whilst working in the creative industries can receive confidential advice, mediation and crucially, investigation into the most serious and complex complaints. Foundations for this work were initiated by the BFI, led by Smith, partnering with BAFTA and UK Time’s Up, to bring the film and television sectors together in 2017 to develop Guidance and Principles to tackle bullying and harassment which were launched the following year.

Establishment of the ISA has accelerated in the last six months, having secured support from key organisations across the film and television industries. Most recently the UK’s leading broadcasters BBC, Channel 4, Channel 5, ITV, and Sky who each committed financial support for its next stage. Smith joins the ISA on an interim basis to formalise the ISA’s remit, its structure, establish funding arrangements and the key milestones ahead of its formal launch in 2024. She will also seek to broaden the scope of the ISA, with a view to it being available to those working in music, theatre, fashion and advertising.

Jen Smith, Interim CEO of the Independent Standards Authority, says, “For too long the creative industries have failed to provide an independent place for people to report experiences of poor behaviour, bullying and harassment. The establishment of the ISA will be transformative in helping address this void. The ISA will have the power to lead investigations and will do so without fear or favour.

“Our vision for the ISA is that it is a truly intersectional organisation offering support and expertise to people facing these issues. We know we are standing on the shoulders of many, who have made significant efforts to drive positive change to improve our workplace culture. We will continue to build on this courageous leadership to ensure that working within the creative industries in the UK becomes the safest place for our talented workforce to thrive”.

Ben Roberts, CEO, BFI says, “Jen has been a driving force of our inclusion work over the past five years, effectively navigating the complexities of the screen industries to support our organisation and the wider industry take meaningful steps towards being more inclusive and representative. Her collaborative approach and commitment to bringing partners with her, has yielded many successes, but not least in leading the development of the work to tackle bullying and harassment with BAFTA. Of course she is perfectly placed to formalise the role and the remit of the ISA, which has the potential to be a game-changer in addressing unacceptable behaviour in our industry.”

Dame Heather Rabbatts, Chair, UK Time’s Up says, “I am delighted that BFI have kindly agreed to second Jen Smith, who has been so important in leading the work on the prevention of harassment and bullying with industry partners over recent years. Her experience will be invaluable as we move towards the future launch of the ISA. We are all aware that there is more to do and the need to build on the extensive work to date by so many. The issue of bullying and harassment is present in the culture across the creative industries and indeed recent comment on those shows which celebrate toxic behaviour, yet again underlines the importance of being clear on what is and is not acceptable.”

Caroline Norbury OBE, Chief Executive, Creative UK, says: “Jen is an impressive senior leader whose integrity, expertise and inclusive approach is gold standard and I couldn’t be more delighted to welcome her as the new ISA interim CEO.  I’m also immensely grateful to the BFI for their generosity by seconding her to help take the ISA into its next phase.  The creative industries community is determined to combat bullying and harassment – we are proud to produce some of the world’s most amazing content, entertainment, fashion and music, but we must also be proud of the way in which we do that. With Jen on board to help us move the dial on working practices within the creative industries, with inclusivity and diversity at its heart, we have made a positive step towards that goal.”

Jon Creamer

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