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Equity launches investigation to find solutions to sexual harassment crisis

8 November 2017

Equity is launching an investigation to find practical solutions to combat sexual harassment and the fear of disclosure in the theatre, film, TV, audio and new media industries.

Equity is the UK’s largest entertainment trade union representing creative workers and has existing agreements with all the major employers. It is uniquely placed to create meaningful change. 

Following the Equity Council’s meeting on Tuesday 7 November, it was announced that Maureen Beattie, actor and Equity Vice President, and Christine Payne, Equity’s General Secretary, will form a working group that will:

  • Remind all Equity members that the union will support them in cases of sexual harassment. Members can be reassured that they can talk to the union in complete confidence.
  • Reach out to all members to ask for their suggestions to combat harassment and the culture of fear that often prevents them from reporting incidents.
  • Meet campaign groups such as Women in Film & TV, Women@RADA, Equal Representation for Actresses (ERA) and Act for Change.
  • Meet with representatives of the UK’s performing arts schools.
  • Discuss and review with employers such as UK Theatre, ITC and SOLT, BBC, ITV and PACT (the producers’ association) if their current workplace policies regarding harassment and bullying remain fit for purpose.
  • Meet with workplace partners such as sister union Bectu, the Stage Management’ Association and the associations for both film and stage directors.

The union will publish its conclusions and recommendations early in the New Year. This report will build on the union’s existing industrial relations across the industry and Equity’s agreements. These currently contain important protections against abuse and provisions covering nudity/sex acts which we want to see comprehensively adhered to.

In a further response to members' concerns about bullying, mental health and sexual harassment, Equity will be appointing a full time member of staff to help in the reporting and resolving of these issues. 

Actor and Equity Vice President Maureen Beattie said: “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.”

Equity’s General Secretary Christine Payne said: “The sexual harassment of women and men has to stop. It cannot be excused as part of any creative process. Influential figures cannot be above the decent and legal standards we demand in workplaces throughout the UK. We will work with employers to make meaningful change and empower our members to combat the culture of fear that is preventing them reporting abuse.”

The launch of the working party has been covered by several press outlets: 

The BBC

Belfast Telegraph

The Guardian

The Herald

The Stage

Victoria Derbyshire

What's On Stage

 

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