BFI & BAFTA Launch ‘Action List’ To Battle Bullying, Harassment & Racism In UK Biz; Orgs Say Covid Pressure Has Created “Challenging Behaviors”

The BFI, BAFTA and more than 40 other industry partners are teaming to launch an ‘Action List’ to aid the biz in pro-actively tackling bullying, harassment and racism in the workplace.

As the industry continues to ride out the wave of Covid-19-related production shutdowns and disruption, inappropriate conduct remains a key battleground despite the lack of on-set activity.

“The industry has been facing additional pressures [during the pandemic] and that has translated into challenging behaviors in some cases,” Jen Smith, the BFI’s Head of Inclusion, told Deadline. She added that different ways of working, particularly under Covid safety protocols, have led to increased tensions and in some cases poor conduct. “It’s a pressured environment anyway [being on set], and the pandemic has added further pressures, so this is a good opportunity to say ‘let’s remember, certain behaviors are not acceptable’.”

Tim Hunter, BAFTA’s Director of Learning, Policy and Inclusion, said that there was “definitely a concern” that the industry may have taken a step backward when it came to inclusion, representation and misconduct last year, with energy and focus entirely devoted to addressing pandemic-related difficulties.

“One of the reasons people say they don’t have a policy or procedure in place is because of the high-pressured environment and how quickly they had to crew up and operate. It [tackling bullying etc] was not necessarily a priority,” he explained. “We’re going to push this up the agenda whenever we can.”

The Action Points include: ensuring employees know their rights and responsibilities; encouraging businesses to adopt company-wide policies to tackle misconduct; making sure employers undertake ScreenSkills training to help identify bullying and harassment; helping employers to visibly display their commitment to creating an inclusive workplace, and ensuring that individuals are designated to handle reports of misconduct.

Alongside today’s announcement, the BFI has also appointed Morgana Melvin as full-time Production Inclusion Manager. In the role, she will work across BFI-backed productions to assist with the prevention of bullying, harassment and racism on set. The BFI is also now hiring a race equality lead to support the wider work the org is doing across the industry to tackle these topics.

The Action Points follow on from the 2018 launch of the bullying and harassment principles and guidelines which were inaugurated to address “significant knowledge gaps” regarding workplace conduct. In addition, a 24/7 support line was set up by the Film & TV Charity to address occurrences of misconduct and assist victims.

Smith explained that industry had fed back to the org that a “concise digest” of the guidelines and principals was needed to action them effectively. “We’re not asking people to do anything different, but we are creating clarity about our expectations,” she adds.

Any project that receives BFI funding must contractually adhere to the guidelines as standard, and so the Action List should be a way for producers and executives to more easily disseminate that information. As Hunter adds, all of the principles within are enshrined in law (workplace bullying and harassment is illegal after all) and as such they also provide a useful framework for all UK film, TV and games productions, producers and companies.

Further endeavors unveiled today include the Film and TV Charity launching a suite of new services to support individuals, including a ‘Bullying Pathway Service’, accessible via the charity’s existing free and confidential 24-hour Film and TV Support Line, and ‘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.

A supporting ‘Dignity at Work Policy’ has also been developed in partnership with Bectu to provide a template for companies, productions and festivals to complement the guidelines and principles to tackle workplace bullying and harassment.

You can read the Action List here.

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