As we pass the one-year anniversary of that watershed Weinstein story, it is a time to take stock of our anti-harassment work at ACTRA Toronto to date.
Training, Education and Resources
Since November 2017, we have organized 14 additional hours of training for staff and Council to improve services to members, including the handling of harassment complaints.
In January 2018, the Respect on Set training was updated to include information on reporting complaints, how to access support services, definitions of discrimination and harassment, and bystander training. The training is now mandatory for new members. Since the update, we have trained 4 additional member-instructors and over 250 people have completed the workshop.
To better protect the interest of members on set, we have trained additional On-set Liaison Officers (OSLOs), increasing the number from 19 to 26.
ACTRA has developed additional resources to members which include:
- 24 HR Emergency and Sexual Harassment Hotline
- anti-harassment wallet size cards
- online harassment complaint form (allows for anonymous reporting)
- information online – what to expect when you report to ACTRA; harassment resources (crisis support lines and where to access free independent legal advice)
- nudity fact sheet
- tip sheets for Council, Committee and Caucus Chairs and staff about the process for reporting and investigating complaints
- regular updates on our anti-harassment initiatives through our website, newsletters, magazines and e-blasts
Changes at ACTRA Toronto
ACTRA Toronto Council immediately adopted the anti-harassment workplan in November 2017. Over the past year, it has implemented a number of additional measures to combat harassment. These include, for example, amending the Equality Statement to recognize membership or work category as a basis for discrimination; creating the position of the Background Advocate; implementing the reading of the Land Acknowledgement before meetings and events; and endorsing the creation of the Women’s Stunt Committee.
The Discipline Process set out under By-Law No.7 was revised. The changes came about after extensive consultations with the Ad Hoc Committee on Preventing Sexual Harassment and the Constitution and By-Laws Review Committee, followed by consultations nationally and work by our external counsel. The changes include definitions for discrimination, harassment and sexual harassment, and a specific process for addressing these types of complaints. To increase transparency and uniformity, there are now expanded provisions outlining the penalties and the factors to consider when imposing proportional consequences. (More information about the changes can be found in the latest edition of Performer magazine.)
Over the last year, we have seen a significant increase in member reporting. To illustrate, complaints of harassment arising on productions under the film and television agreement (IPA) included allegations of sexual harassment (eg. sexual assault, unwanted touching, solicitation, failure to comply with nudity provisions under the IPA, inappropriate communications); harassment (eg. disrespectful behavior); and discriminatory comments. Complaints of harassment arising under the commercial agreement (NCA) involved incidents during the audition process. We have also resolved complaints of harassment between members arising under our Discipline Process (By-Law #7). The complaints included mostly inappropriate communications, interpersonal conflicts between members, and overall, a lack of professionalism.
Overall, members are much more aware of their rights. Members are better supported by their peers when they are making the decision to come forward. Witnesses are more cooperative in investigations. When we bring complaints to organizations, they are much more responsive and understand the seriousness of the allegations. Despite these improvements, challenges remain. Many employers lack the experience in handling complaints, even large, established and well-resourced employers. We also find that confidentiality around the investigation and results which are legally required, can mean that complainants and witnesses are left feeling unsatisfied by the limited information released to them.
Changing the culture
ACTRA has been a driving force in getting the anti-harassment message out to the media, and in the industry. Since October 2017, ACTRA Toronto has had 41 media mentions on sexual harassment. ACTRA Toronto and President Theresa Tova are frequently sought after to speak on harassment and diversity by the media and at industry events
Ongoing attention on harassment is an important part of changing the culture. By speaking out, ACTRA is helping to shift the culture of silence to a culture of reporting. Members have reported feeling more empowered to come forward when they see our leaders speaking out on the issue. Ongoing public and media attention also helps to leverage change from industry stakeholders who would otherwise be reluctant to change.
We have accomplished a lot in a year but there is still much work to be done. Change is tough, but we are continuing to do what we can, when we can. Thank you to everyone who has listened and learned, lent a hand, raised their voice, stood up for themselves and others. Let’s keep this going.