Women of Hollywood have said "time's up," and the Film Academy is taking steps to address sexual harassment within its ranks. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences CEO Dawn Hudson recently sent a letter to members outlining the Academy's new process for handling claims of workplace misconduct. "This is only a small step towards the larger goal of encouraging workplace environments that support creativity, equality, and respect," she wrote.
The Academy announced new "Standards of Conduct" in December after meeting with ethics, business, philosophy, and law professors from top universities in addition to human resources and sexual harassment experts. Almost two months later, plans to establish an official procedure for reporting and addressing claims of workplace misconduct were revealed. A document outlining the new process explains how members can file reports of misconduct either online (once a secure website is up and running this summer) or over the phone.
It also defines how claims will be "substantiated by clear evidence of behavior that violates the Academy's Standards of Conduct": The violation must have been witnessed by another person, reported to another person, memorialized in writing, or established as part of a pattern of misconduct by the same member. Additionally, the person reporting misconduct experiencing "verifiable changes in their mental, emotional or physical well-being" will qualify as evidence.
"The Academy’s goal is not to be an investigative body, but rather ensure that when a grievance is made, it will go through a fair and methodical process," Hudson wrote in a letter to Academy members obtained by Variety, explaining that the new process will determine whether the accused is ousted.
Harvey Weinstein was booted from the Academy in October, following numerous allegations of sexual assault and harassment. However, other members publicly accused of sexual misconduct — such as Kevin Spacey and Ben Affleck— remain members.
The way it addresses sexual misconduct is one of multiple criticisms directed at the organization in recent years, which also include its lack of female Oscar nominees as women in Hollywood fight for equal recognition and pay. Female actors, directors, writers, and film crews are demanding that issues disproportionately affecting women be taken seriously by the film industry.
As Hudson wrote in her letter: "This is a difficult time and a challenging process that will not be solved overnight. Our work continues and will require us to be nimble and refine our procedures as times demand."
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