Last weekend, SAG-AFTRA released a Code of Conduct on Sexual Harassment as part of a broader program to protect its members and to confront harassment and advance equity in the workplace.
Called, “The Four Pillars of Change,” it also sets forth clear expectations that SAG-AFTRA members will refrain from engaging in harassing conduct.
Leading with a Call to Action to its 160,000 members and the entertainment, music and media industries, the Code defines sexual harassment and details what constitutes a hostile work environment, retaliation, and other types of prohibited conduct.
The Code sets forth employers’ legal obligations under both the union’s contracts and the law, including the need to provide reporting mechanisms through which members can report instances of sexual harassment.
“The Four Pillars of Change” initiative represents the union’s overall approach to combat harassment, empower members to support each other, expand intervention efforts and pursue solutions for victims and survivors of harassment and assault.
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The Pillars include sections on Rules and Guidelines, Empowerment Through Education, Expanded Intervention efforts, and Building Bridges and Safety Nets. Together, these programs form a collective approach that provides a comprehensive set of tools and information to confront harassment and advance equity in the workplace.
“To truly change the culture, we must be courageous and willing. At its most basic, this Code will ultimately help better define what harassment is, and what members’ rights are in real world situations,” said SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris. “We are going further, however, with the launch of our Four Pillars of Change initiative to achieve safe workplaces and advance equity.”
SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director David White chimed in as well, “This initiative provides a critical framework for our collective efforts to further strengthen protections for SAG-AFTRA members who experience harassment in the workplace,” adding, “Our comprehensive approach ensures that we stay focused on providing members with clear information, making training available that is relevant and practical, and working with industry partners to expand our tools to intervene and support victims of workplace harassment and assault.”
Carteris added. “This initiative gives members a clear understanding of their workplace rights and provides reliable guidance for members to navigate the unique environments of the entertainment, music and media industries.”
The union is also working on additional documents to provide practical guidance in both work and non-work settings in which harassment is known to frequently occur.
Actresses in both Los Angeles and Chicago were understandably relieved, and in some cases, surprised that something like this was not already in place.
LA-based actress Rebecca Rowley told Reel Chicago, “I believe that they need to email every SAG member the code of conduct as well as mail a hardcopy.”
Former Chicago actress and current LA resident Natasha Zoquera Milburn was pleased by the union’s announcement, but still took the entertainment industry to task for being “very late.”
“It’s kind of astonishing to me that this has not existed until now,” she explains. “I feel that many businesses and companies have set forth these kind of guidelines and protections, but it took the entertainment industry 100 years to do so? That being said I think it’s very important and necessary and I’m glad to read about all of the bullet points listed therein … Most importantly, I think it is necessary that women and other vulnerable parties have a SAFE and discreet way to report abuse since the fear and shame is the key component to so much of what has been transpiring for decades. We as women have always been afraid to step on toes, to appear undesirable, to limit our opportunities, to make anyone mad or uncomfortable, to shame anyone, to speak up out of fear of misinterpretation… so the clear listing of possible wrongs as well as a safe avenue in which to report them is very necessary if not also very late.”
To read the Code of Conduct on Sexual Harassment, click here.
To read the Call to Action Ensuring Safe and Equitable Workplaces, click here.
Contact Colin Costello at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @colincostello10.
Pictured at top: “The Four Pillars of Change” expects that members will refrain from harassing conduct