This week, I conducted the first workshop on respectful workplaces for the Directors’ Guild in Ontario and ACTRA. If I was looking for a better news hook for the workshop, I probably couldn’t have made one up.
It was such a timely session given the headlines all around us of the Penn State cover-up by the coach, Joe Paterno, allegations of sexual harassment for presidential candidate Herman Cain, and Cpl.Catherine Gailliford, a high ranking RCMP officer outlining the harassment she underwent in doing her job. All of these revelations point to two things – harassment won’t be tolerated. And if you witness the abuse, you can no longer be an observer.
These revelations make it easier hopefully for people to come forward to voice their objections to ensure the perpetrator is exposed. Because there are so many barriers to speaking up. In the film and television industry, you can be labelled not a team player, a troublemaker, or worse yet, be blacklisted.
In one example during the course, a young actor was repeatedly harassed by a crew member old enough to be her father. She and a couple of other young women who were also being harassed banded together to talk to the production manager. Their aim wasn’t to have the man fired, just to have him stop so they could do their work without being hassled.
That’s what all people want – the ability to do their jobs in a respectful place. That’s not that much to ask, is it?