Apple TV+, BBCS, Disney & ITVS link on Equity’s workplace guidelines

Ralph Lee

Apple TV+, the BBC, Disney and ITV Studios (ITVS) are among a swathe of companies to have signed up to a new commitment aimed at cutting out bullying, harassment and inappropriate behaviour in TV.

The statement comes via UK union Equity and brings together 21 major organisations in the TV industry, both in the UK and internationally, that have pledged to improve workplace behaviour.

AMC, BBC Studios, The Casting Directors’ Guild, Channel 4, Channel 5, The Co-operative Personal Management Association, Intimacy Directors & Coordinators, Northern Ireland Screen, Pact, Paramount, Personal Managers Association, S4C, Screen Scotland, Sky, TAC, and Warner Bros have also signed the commitment.

The statement follows what Equity described as a “ground-breaking” first meeting of representatives from the above organisations, at which they discussed how to create “a respectful workplace and to agree how concerns should be raised if there is inappropriate behaviour.”

Reps discussed and agreed on the following rules:

• Safe casting and audition spaces: professional recruitment standards to be adopted and auditions undertaken in appropriate workspaces

• Policies: producers to have clear respect at work policies which include a process for making and addressing concerns and complaints of bullying and harassment

• Accessible information: information shared with cast and crew about how concerns can be raised either if they are the victim of or see inappropriate behaviour (e.g. information on call sheets and displayed in communal areas, access to support and whistleblowing helplines, details of the safeguarding contact for each production)

• Anti-bullying and harassment training: to be completed by cast and crew before they start work

• Safeguarding contact: a suitably trained, senior member of the production team who can be contacted and who can proactively make any necessary adjustments

• Nudity and simulated sex acts: notification to be given in advance and in writing about the scope and extent of nudity and/or simulated sex requested, followed by discussion and agreement with the artist. For scenes of an intimate nature an intimacy co-ordinator to be engaged if acceptable to the actors involved

Equity said the statement “does not signal the end of work to tackle bullying, harassment and inappropriate behaviour, but that of work to be done”.

The union aims to “move towards a culture in which everyone working in the TV industry feels able to call out unacceptable behaviour and that nobody is above being challenged: no one is untouchable.”

The companies added that “everyone has a responsibility for creating an inclusive and respectful culture – and that by working together we can deliver real and lasting change in the industry.”

Lynda Rooke, Equity president, said: “On behalf of every performer who has experienced bullying and harassment during their on screen working lives, I welcome this commitment by industry representatives to create a safe working environment where everyone is treated with dignity and respect.

“But to establish an inclusive and respectful culture requires actions not just words, and I encourage all those working in this sector to recognise their individual responsibility to report inappropriate behaviour and unite against any pressure to remain silent on these issues.”

Ralph Lee, director of content at BBCS Productions, said: “It is important that as an industry we work together to ensure there is a safe and respectful working environment within the production community. Signing up to this statement of commitment will strengthen our ability to continue to improve making this happen.”

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