In the wake of the allegations against Harvey Weinstein's, which he has denied, the film and television industries are realizing that things must change. Performers deserve a workplace that is free from sexual harassment, and the actor's union, SAG-AFTRA, is making a huge push to ensure their members' safety with a code of conduct.
Variety reported that Gabrielle Carteris, president of SAG, announced a sweeping new code of conduct for actors, specifically to address the epidemic of sexual harassment. The new code defines sexual harassment so that perpetrators can't claim to misunderstand their own actions. It also outlines what behaviors are prohibited in the workplace and mandates that victims have clear ways to report improper behavior.
Carteris explained that the code is based on "Four Pillars of Change," a set of four principles to combat sexual harassment and assault. "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," she said.
Variety reported that the pillars are "rules and guidelines, empowerment through education, expanded intervention efforts, and building bridges and safety nets." While Carteris didn't specifically explain how the pillars will be put into practical everyday use, she did note that the code will "ultimately help better define what harassment is, and what members’ rights are in real world situations."
According to Variety, Carteris and SAG national executive director, David White, have said the number of reports of sexual harassment that come into the union have been averaging at least five a day since the Weinstein report.
SAG first announced it was working on a code of conduct at the Screen Actors Guild Awards when presenters Brie Larson and Lupita Nyong'o told the Hollywood crowd that the code was a way to stop anyone from having to say #MeToo ever again.
This initiative is different from Time's Up and the Anita Hill-helmed Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace that you may have heard about. Hill's commission is a broad-based coalition of numerous Hollywood executives and union leaders; this one is specifically targeting actors and other members of SAG. As Carteris said, "To truly change the culture we must be courageous and willing."
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).