Recent months have seen a seismic shift in public discussion of sexual misconduct in the workplace. Stories of harassment and abuse are at last coming to light. These reports have rocked the fashion, entertainment, and media industries in particular, and so these industries must now lead the way in demanding dignity and respect for all of their workers.
With a group of like-minded colleagues, we are putting forward a proposal to combat discrimination and harassment in fashion, entertainment, and media. Together, we can develop a program that guarantees dignity and respect, a program in which businesses and industry groups can openly commit themselves to workplaces free of abuse.
Such a program will have two main purposes: to formulate and implement a code of conduct; and to join participating businesses and industry groups that make a commitment to upholding these best practices, with a neutral, non-profit arbitrating entity that will guarantee accountability.
There has never been a better time to make clear that sexual harassment and sexual disrespect have no part in fashion, entertainment, and media.
Broadly speaking, this is what the program aims to accomplish:
- Commitment by Leaders in Industry Groups and Businesses that Choose to Affiliate. Leaders in industry groups and in businesses that affiliate with the program should publicly commit to the core principle of dignity and respect.
- Commitment of Adequate Resources. Affiliated industry groups and businesses should provide adequate resources for program operations.
- Code of Dignity and Respect. The program should promulgate a Code of Dignity and Respect that includes compliance with sexual-harassment law. The Code should also reach more broadly to include patterns of behavior that generate discrimination and harassment and provide clear guidance in applying guidelines to specific organizations and contexts.
- Surveys, Benchmarks, and Continuous Improvement. The program should carry out surveys of relevant behaviors and cultural indicators to create initial baselines. The program should thereafter conduct periodic audits to benchmark progress in compliance with the Code and to develop continually improving best practices.
- Raising Awareness. Industry and organizational leaders should continuously demonstrate their commitment to the program. Dignity and respect also diffuses through organizations by means of training and discussions.
- Designing the Program for All Organizational Participants. The program should ensure that all potential parties to acts of discrimination and harassment—potential victims, potential perpetrators and their superiors, and potential by-standers/witnesses—understand their obligations and rights.
- Protocols for Filing Complaints, Conducting Investigations and Mediation. Consistent with best practices in the field, the program should construct multiple channels for filing complaints. The program should adopt clear guidelines and processes for promptly investigating complaints and mediating disputes with the full knowledge and support of affiliates’ leadership.
- Seal of Approval. A seal may be awarded to those affiliates that have demonstrated constructive cooperation with the program.