Screen industries unite to reinvigorate action against bullying, harassment and racism

The BFI and BAFTA today announce the next stage of ground-breaking work to tackle bullying, harassment and racism in the workplace with a new employer Action List for the film and television industry, as The Film and TV Charity launches new services, providing immediate support for workers. The announcement comes as Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) guidance on harassment at work is expected to become a statutory code of practice in the coming months, and filming restrictions and remote working during the pandemic have created additional pressures.

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The Action List is part of a wider industry mobilisation and call for employers to commit to following the latest advice to meet their legal and ethical responsibilities and signpost workers to available support. It includes a set of resources designed to assist employers to meet those responsibilities and is endorsed by producers such as Faye Ward and Hannah Farrell of Fable Pictures (the recently BAFTA-nominated Rocks, Stan & Ollie, Wild Rose and the forthcoming TV series Anne Boleyn).

Research commissioned by The Film and TV Charity, published in February 2020, which collected data on more than 9,000 workers, revealed that bullying remains highly prevalent – across all sub-sectors, 84% had experienced or witnessed bullying or harassment, with even higher figures in some sub-sectors. Those who had experienced bullying were twice as likely to want to leave the industry and highly likely to have had mental health problems. The charity’s new bullying support services have been developed in direct response to this need.

The State of Play survey on unscripted TV undertaken in the wake of the pandemic and published in January 2021 by Bectu, Bournemouth University and Viva La PD, found that over 93% of respondents have experienced bullying or harassment in the TV industry, with only 11% who reported incidents considering that the matter was satisfactorily resolved. The report suggests that the vulnerability of the workforce over the last year has spotlighted a whole range of systemic employment-related concerns, including the need to ensure that incidents can be reported without fear of reprisal, and that procedures are in place to address reports.

The new Action List is based on the Set of Principles and Guidance published in 2018 developed by the BFI in partnership with BAFTA and in consultation with organisations across the film, games and television industries in response to urgent and systemic issues around bullying and harassment exposed so shockingly through cases such as the Harvey Weinstein allegations and subsequent conviction. In July 2020 the Principles and Guidance were updated with a specific commitment to anti-racism in recognition of widespread failings highlighted by the Black Lives Matter movement.

The Guidance outlines the law around bullying, harassment and racism, and also includes sexism, ableism, homophobia and other forms of discrimination. It sets out the responsibilities of employers, and provides advice for employees and freelancers. A supporting Dignity at Work Policy, developed in partnership with Bectu, provides a template for companies, productions and festivals to complement the Guidance and Principles to tackle workplace bullying and harassment.

The new Action List for film and television launched today, which joins one for the games industry already in place, outlines simple yet effective actions that all employers can take to prevent and tackle workplace bullying, harassment and racism and demonstrate their commitment to tackling the issue. The Action List makes further recommendations including taking the new ScreenSkills online training module on bullying and harassment, and ensuring all employees and freelancers are aware of the new suite of bullying support services launched today by The Film and TV Charity.

The Film and TV Charity has today launched a suite of new services to provide more support for individuals who have experienced or witnessed bullying including: the Bullying Pathway Service, accessible via the charity’s existing free and confidential 24-hour Film and TV Support Line 0800 054 00 00, offering free, confidential and independent industry-specific legal, HR and mental health advice; and digital incident-recording tool Spot, accessible via the charity’s website, which can be used by anyone to create a confidential private record of something they’ve experienced of witnessed. The new services have been created as part of the Whole Picture Programme, the pan-industry movement for better mental health. More information can be found at www.filmtvcharity.org.uk/bullying

The Principles and Guidance have now been endorsed by over 40 screen sector organisations including Screen Scotland, with The Casting Directors’ Guild the most recent to formally endorse them. A number of below-the-line talent agents, including Sara Putt Associates, have committed to requiring employers to agree to adhere to the Guidance as part of their deal memos with talent, and producers such as Fable Pictures require workers to sign up to the Principles.

The BFI has hired Morgana Melvin as Production Inclusion Manager to work across the BFI Film Fund, Inclusion and Skills teams and other partners such as ScreenSkills, BBC Films, and Film4 to identify the challenges and coordinate strategies that can result in real change for employment opportunities for underrepresented groups in the production sector across the UK. By reaching out to producers, Head of Departments and the wider industry, Morgana will work with BFI teams on strategies that can support job progression and retention in the industry. This will include support for the prevention of bullying, harassment and racism on set.

As previously announced by BAFTA, entrants for the 2021 BAFTA Games Awards have been asked to provide information on their companies’ anti-bullying and harassment guidelines. This year, along with the adoption of the BFI Diversity Standards, is a pilot year for the BAFTA Games Awards and joins existing requirements for BAFTA’s Awards across Film and Television. BAFTA will be using the data collected to enable them to see where support, guidance and training can be offered, if necessary. The move is part of a renewed commitment from BAFTA following the 2020 Review which marks the beginning of a significant cultural shift in BAFTA, challenging the industry to address the serious lack of opportunity and equality.

Isabel Davis, Executive Director, Screen Scotland said: “We fully support the adoption of all the resources, guidance and principles published today.  We encourage people to share them widely in order to build support, increase visibility, and strengthen legal compliance and best practice.”

Jen Smith, Head of Inclusion at the BFI, said: “We’re delighted that so many organisations across the screen industries have already adopted the Guidance and Principles, but we know from our conversations with industry that more structured support needs to be within every workplace to prevent and reduce instances of bullying, harassment and racism. The Guidance, Principles, Dignity at Work policy and the Action List are working documents that we will continue to refine, as well as building even more complementary resources.

“We have demonstrated our dexterity and adaptability as an industry in the face of a pandemic; as production begins to increase again, in the face of the visceral inequality that the pandemic has laid bare, the BFI and BAFTA want to share these resources widely as we believe they can immediately improve that lived experience for our workers and act as a very useful point of reference for employers.”

Tim Hunter, Director of Learning, Policy and Inclusion at BAFTA, said: “The nature of our industries can make it more challenging to put in place policies and procedures which might be more achievable in other sectors. The Action List and accompanying training and resources suggest solutions for the kinds of workplaces common in the industries which we will continue to improve in the coming years. It’s so important that so many industry bodies are coming together with a united strategy to tackle this issue supporting both employers via the Action List, and workers via the fantastic services offered by The Film and TV Charity. Our shared aim is to create workplace cultures where everyone can contribute to the best of their abilities.”

Caroline Waters, Deputy Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “We’re pleased to see the BFI and BAFTA taking clear action to ensure that bullying and harassment and racism issues across UK screen industries are dealt with. The Action list will help to minimise the possibility of incidents and ensure legal compliance which will protect both employers and workers.”

Dame Heather Rabbatts, Chair of TIME'S UP UK, said: “It was just over three years ago when TIME’S UP UK, in collaboration with BFI and BAFTA, launched the Bullying, Harassment and Racism Principles and Guidance for industry calling out unacceptable behaviour. Three years on, whilst awareness has been heightened, we need these resources more than ever and so we welcome the Action List released today to bolster our armoury to help eradicate these toxic practices. At TIME’S UP UK we are soon to release a series of safety guides for people working in the entertainment industry, free resources to empower arts and entertainment workers with information about their rights, industry-specific norms, and practical ways they can advocate for themselves and their safety and help people understand that no matter your situation, you have options.”

Lucy Tallon, Head of Mental Health and Wellbeing at The Film and TV Charity, said: “The Film and TV Charity is pleased to be part of this pioneering pan-industry commitment to end bullying and harassment.  Our research identified bullying as one of the leading causes of poor mental health in our industry. The personal testimonies we heard and continued to hear are shocking. We must do better as an industry.  The Film and TV Charity is launching a suite of services to help those experiencing or witnessing bullying navigate their options. Individuals can come to us for self-help resources, for professional advice, and for access to a safe digital space to record experiences in private. These services are part of our strategy to make sure everyone working in film and TV has better support and better mental health.”

Adeel Amini, Chair of the pan-industry Coalition for Change, and Founder of the TV Mindset, said: “The Coalition for Change is focused on raising awareness of the urgent need to improve working conditions for everyone in our industry and we continue to push for widespread cultural change. Bullying, harassment, racism, ableism and other forms of discrimination have no place in what should be a supportive, creative environment, so we're happy to be supporting the BFI and BAFTA as they step forward with practical advice on how to combat a pernicious culture, and to have been involved in creating new services to support workers with The Film and TV Charity.”
Philippa Childs, Head of Bectu, said: “Bectu has worked with BFI and BAFTA over many years to develop practical solutions to tackle bullying and harassment in the workplace. The guidance being re-issued today includes a simple template policy to help employers deliver on their legal responsibilities to all workers on-set.

“We want to see employers deliver more for their workers than the legal bare minimum, which is why we are pleased that the guidance also includes Bectu’s recommendation that all productions have a designated individual who can take reports of bullying and harassment. We will be working with BFI, BAFTA and ScreenSkills to draw up a template of responsibilities for this role.

“The industry quickly came together to agree Covid supervisor roles last year, and we hope to be met with a similar can-do attitude to tackling bullying and harassment.

Seetha Kumar, CEO, ScreenSkills, said: “It is so positive that the industry has come together to create a better, fairer working environment by addressing unacceptable behaviours that have no place in it. We at ScreenSkills already provide a range of training, e-learning and resources – including some supported by the BFI with National Lottery funds – to help the industry identify and tackle bullying and harassment and racism so companies and productions as well as individual freelancers can play their part in creating safe and welcoming workplaces for everyone.”

Victor Jenkins, Chair of the Casting Director’s Guild, said: “The Casting Directors' Guild wholeheartedly supports these principles and actively promotes equality, diversity and inclusion within our own practices and the work of our members. Through a shared commitment across the industry, we can ensure there is no place for bullying and harassment.”

Andy Harrower, CEO of Directors UK, said:
“It is vital that as an industry we create an urgent and meaningful response to the systemic issues of bullying, harassment and racism. Ensuring everyone is treated fairly, professionally and with respect should be the first priority of every production. This additional tool to support the industry principles and guidance makes the advice accessible to all productions and empowers them to take action regardless of their size or budget. We are pleased to support this work today and will continue to work with our colleagues to prevent unacceptable behaviour in the workplace.”

Faye Ward and Hannah Farrell, Creative Directors of Fable Pictures, said: “Fable Pictures strive to offer an inclusive environment on all our productions where everyone is treated with dignity and respect. The Principles against bullying, harassment and racism have really helped us set the tone on set and create a welcoming and inclusive working environment. This new Action List has made it even easier for us to understand what steps we can take to prevent and deal with unacceptable behaviour and support all our employees.”

Sara Putt of Sara Putt Associates, said: “Sara Putt Associates are proud and excited to support this work.  We, as many other talent agents, include adherence to the BFI/BAFTA Principles and Guidance for the prevention of Bullying, and Harassment and Racism in our deal memos, and this clear and comprehensive Action List offers great practical guidance enabling all productions to create a safe workplace for everyone. Through my role as a BAFTA Trustee I have witnessed at first hand the huge amount of hard work put in by the BFI and BAFTA to create the original guidance and principles and now to have honed the information into an effective practical toolkit for all of the industry to use.  As we strive to create a better environment for everyone who works in film and TV the importance of this Action List and the associated resources cannot be underestimated.”

Jo Twist, CEO of Ukie, said: “The games industry has worked closely with our colleagues in film and television, through BAFTA and the BFI, to ensure that there is a clear and coherent set of principles and guidance across the screen industries. The industry’s Action List for employers in games, which launched in July 2020, has drawn on that best practice to help games studios of all sizes to help create, foster and maintain healthy work environments for their employees and freelance workers.”