Anti-sexual harassment guidelines sweep Hollywood – but will they help?
UK entertainment organizations unite against sexual harassment with new guidelines
On Wednesday, organizations from across the UK’s film, TV, and video game industries unveiled a new set of guidelines. Developed by organizations including the British Film Institute, BAFTA, The Production Guild, Women in Film & TV and the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain and based around eight core principles covering employee and employer responsibilities, the guidelines reveal training schemes and a 24-hour helpline dedicated to providing protection, eradicating harassment and bullying, and taking action where appropriate.
Emma Watson, who was consulted about the plans along with actors like Gemma Chan, Jodie Whittaker, and Gemma Arterton praised the new principles, while producer Barbara Broccoli called the guidelines “an important step in creating an industry in which we can be proud, is accessible to all and everyone working in it can feel safe”.
PGA and SAG-AFTRA have similar rules – but will they work?
Will such guidelines, aimed at curbing what Broccoli dubbed the “dangerous and negative culture and behaviour that has been tolerated for far too long” within the entertainment industry be effective in protecting individuals or eradicating undesired behaviors?
At this stage, it’s difficult to know whether that message is all talk and no action. But these UK organizations aren’t the only ones to have announced anti-sexual harassment guidelines recently.
In January, for instance, the Producers Guild of America unveiled guidelines based on suggestions made by the PGA’s Anti-Sexual Harassment Task Force. The eight-page set of guidelines focuses on anti-sexual harassment training, reporting procedures for production staff, and compliance with state and federal laws regarding harassment,. Soon after, it was announced Wonder Woman 2 would be the first movie to adopt the guidelines.
The same day as the PGA revealed this new protocol, SAG-AFTRA also announced they were developing a “Code of Conduct” aimed at tackling sexual harassment in the workplace. As described by Deadline, the Code of Conduct will encompass behavior carried out “at auditions, wrap parties, film festivals and anywhere else performers gather to find jobs or promote and celebrate their work.” Alongside this Code of Conduct, SAG-AFTRA also disclosed they were exploring tech innovations to help track reports and provide anonymity and confidentiality to reporters & survivors.
If carried out well, such guidelines will hopefully provide an infrastructure of support to entertainment industry professionals. But are a set of rules enough to keep intolerable behavior in check? Now that people are more comfortable speaking out about harassment, abuse, and assault, we’ll likely be hearing plenty should the guidelines prove to be ineffective.