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UK screen industries unite over eight rules to tackle harassment

Harvey Weinstein
The BFI said the scale of harassment in the industry, triggered by the revelations against Harvey Weinstein, had spurred it to take action. Photograph: Yann Coatsaliou/AFP/Getty Images

Eight “clear and simple” principles to tackle bullying and harassment in the UK’s screen industries have been published in an effort to stamp out abuse.

The British Film Institute (BFI) said the principles and zero-tolerance guidance, drawn up over the last three months, was a first for the UK film, television and video game industries.

Devised with the help and input of more than 20 industry organisations and unions, the principles are supported by actors including Emma Watson, Jodie Whittaker, Gemma Arterton and Gemma Chan, as well as the producers Barbara Broccoli, Rebecca O’Brien and Alison Owen.

They include a shared responsibility to respect others and a zero-tolerance approach to bullying and harassment. Number one of the eight principles is: “Everyone is responsible for creating and maintaining an inclusive workplace that is positive and supportive.”

Another says there must be provision of “adequate protection for complainants and victims, and, where bullying or harassment is found to have occurred, taking appropriate action against bullies or harassers.”

Number eight is: “We will respect each other’s dignity, regardless of the seniority of our role in an organisation.”

As well as the BFI principles, developed in partnership with Bafta, details of a support line were also announced on Wednesday. The Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund (CTBF) charity said the support line would launch in April and be available for all issues in people’s lives.

Alex Pumfrey, the CTBF chief executive, said the “horrifying” revelations of harassment and abuse “adds to the underreported incidence of stress, anxiety, health and mental health issues, and financial difficulty that can affect anyone”.

The BFI’s head of diversity, Jennifer Smith, said the scale and the magnitude of the sexual harassment crisis in the industry, which began with allegations against the producer Harvey Weinstein, had been galvanising.

The new principles are a first step, she said. “We are very clear that this is putting the first mark on the page, this has to be high on our collective agendas. This is about resetting the tone of the industry; it is about cultural shift. It is the beginning rather than the end.”

Amanda Nevill, the BFI chief executive, said the guidance was “clear and simple”. She added: “It is an important step in becoming the industry I believe we all truly aspire to be: fair, open and offering opportunity to everyone.”

A lot of the guidance was based on common sense, common law and respect for basic human dignity, said Smith.

Organisations and individuals applying to the BFI for public money will have to agree to abide by the principles as well as already established diversity standards. The principles will be reviewed every six months.

The guidance was welcomed by Margot James, the creative industries minister, who said it was an important first step to ensure change. “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.”

Caroline Waters, the 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.”

This article titled "UK screen industries unite over eight rules to tackle harassment" was written by Mark Brown Arts correspondent, for The Guardian on Wednesday 14 February 2018 06.00am

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