The chorus of calls for an Independent Standards Authority (ISA) that tackles bullying and harassment in UK entertainment is growing louder. Keira Knightley, Naomie Harris and several high-profile industry figures are among the those supporting a cross-industry group working to create the new body.
UK Times Up, the British wing of the U.S. anti-harassment and assault body, first called for its creation, developing a framework in collaboration with law firm Fieldfisher that protects freelancers, self-employed workers and those on short-term contracts. It is now working with Creative UK to meet with different media stakeholders over the proposal.
In a statement released today supporting the project, Knightley said: “For anyone to fulfil their creative potential there cannot be fear or disrespect or any kind. We are all entitled to work in safe, respectful spaces where dignity for all is upheld. I believe the ISA is an important step in helping to achieve this.”
Added Harris: “No one should go to work fearful of harassment, bullying and abuse. For anyone to have their voice and reach their full potential, where we work must be safe and respectful. I believe the ISA is an important step in helping to achieve this.”
Both have previously revealed themselves as victims of assault during their time in the industry.
UK Time’s UP Chair Heather Rabbatts said it was “a historic moment for the film and television industry to create a new body, which will provide a just process for complainants and for those accused, to drive accountability and integrity.”
“The ISA is a crucial development in the fight to eradicate unacceptable behaviour and support safe, respectful and dignified working conditions for all. We are all aware that whilst there are helplines and advice, which are, of course, crucially important, fear and suspicion remain and, in a sector dominated by freelancers with little or zero employment protection, and access to work being based on formal and informal networks, many continue to suffer in silence,” she added.
This comes after singer-songwriter Rebecca Ferguson last year went before a DCMS government committee to recall her experiences of bullying, harassment and discrimination in British media.
Ferguson today said: “The ISA is a monumental step that will support future creatives, which could include your children, grandchildren or family members. By supporting the ISA you are making our industry safer and impacting peoples’ lives in a very positive way. Every industry deserves good practice and standards so that we can all work together harmoniously.”
In 2017, UK Time’s Up first teamed with the BFI and Bafta to develop guidelines against bullying and harassment, which other creative sectors adopted. From this, Creative UK agreed a plan of action and began discussions with representatives from the music, TV, film, theatre, advertising, video games, and fashion sectors.
Bafta Chair Krishnendu Mujamdar, BFI Director of Culture and Inclusion Jennifer Smith and Head of Bectu Philippa Childs all provided statements in support of the project, along with government Culture Secretary Nadine Dorris, who said: “I feel strongly that it is for the creative industries to ensure the welfare of those working in them. I encourage industry to improve welfare standards and fully address unacceptable behaviour and practices.”