Acting Union Investigates Solutions To Sexual Harassment Crisis

Acting Union Investigates Solutions To Sexual Harassment Crisis

If you’ve been anywhere near the news over the last few weeks, you’ll know that the acting industry (primarily in Hollywood, although it has affected productions in the UK as well) is currently facing a sexual harassment crisis.

Big name stars like Kevin Spacey, Ed Westwick, Sylvester Stallone, Richard Dreyfuss, Dustin Hoffman, Harvey Weinstein and more have had accusations levelled at them over the last couple of weeks… and it certainly seems as this is just the tip of the iceberg where this is concerned at the moment.

As such, it has spurred acting union Equity (the biggest entertainment trade union in the UK) on to launch an investigation into potential solutions to tackle sexual harassment and the fear of disclosing incidents in the film, theatre, audio, TV and new media industries.

Its conclusions and recommendations will be published early next year, building on the organisation’s current industrial relations across the industry and its own agreements. These contain protections against abuse and provisions that cover nudity or sex acts, protections the group is keen to see comprehensively adhered to.

Christine Payne, general secretary with Equity, observed that sexual harassment of men or women cannot be excused as part of the creative process and influential figures shouldn’t be above the legal standards that UK workplaces demand across the country. She went on to say that the union will be working with employers to ensure that “meaningful change” is rolled out and that its members are empowered to tackle the culture of fear that is currently stopping them from reporting abuse.

“This is a key moment for the industry to harness the energy generated by those courageous enough to speak out about their appalling treatment. We will do all that we can to ensure that the supportive statements made by those with power in our industry are followed up with concrete and real action that will bring about the radical change needed to make our industry safer for all creative workers,” Maureen Beattie, actor and vice-president of Equity, further commented.

According to SAG-AFTRA, a US union representing 160,000 actors, broadcast journalists, stunt performers and more, complaints to its hotline have climbed by 500 per cent since the first news stories broke about Harvey Weinstein back in October, Vanity Fair reports.

Speaking to the news source, Gabrielle Carteris – president of the union – explained that this surge in complaints has sparked a conversation that hasn’t been out in the open properly before. As a result, everyone in the industry is now re-evaluating their own procedures and policies, discussing how the sector can make a real step change.

Speaking to guild members, attorney Gloria Allred listed some of the behaviours that would constitute sexual harassment legally, including statements about someone’s body, leering and sexual advances. She went on to stress that people shouldn’t feel guilty about standing up for their rights.

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