Entertainment heavyweights are funding a new Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Worksplace, which will be chaired by Anita Hill, a law professor who accused then-Supreme Court Justice nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment in 1991.
Although no formal mission statement has been adopted, the commission said it will lead the entertainment industry toward alignment in achieving safer, fairer, more equitable and accountable workplaces — particularly for women and marginalized people. The attendees emphasized that safe and inclusive work environments result in stronger and more successful businesses.
Attendees at the meeting to form the commission included WME co-chair Ari Emanuel, Disney chairman/CEO Bob Iger; CAA co-chair Bryan Lourd; Alliance Motion Picture and Television Producers president Carol Lombardini, ICM Partners founding partner Chris Silbermann, WGA executive director David Young, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences CEO Dawn Hudson and SAG-AFTRA presdient Gabrielle Carterist.
Also, Jeff Blackburn, Amazon svp business development; Jeff Shell, Universal Filmed Entertainment Group chair; Jeremy Zimmer, UTA CEO; Jim Gianopulos, Paramount chair/CEO; Karen Stuart, Association of Talent Agents executive director; Kevin Tsujihara, Warner Bros. chair/CEO; Maury McIntyre, Television Academy president/COO; Mike Miller, Motion Picture & TV Production/IATSE 4th international vp/department director; Russ Hollander, Directors Guild of America executive director; Sir Lucian Grainge, Universal Music Group chair/CEO; Susan Sprung, Producers Guild of America associate executive director; Ted Sarandos, Netflix chief content officer; Tony Vinciquerra, Sony chair/CEO ;Julie Greenwald, Atlantic Records chair/COO; Leslie Moonves, CBS Corp. chair/CEO; and Neil Portnow, Recording Academy NARAS president.
Hill, an attorney and Brandeis law professor, testified against Clarence Thomas during his 1991 Senate confirmation hearing for the Supreme Court. During the televised hearings, she claimed she was asked out by Thomas numerous times, and subjected to many bizarre conversations about sexual matters during her employment.In the most infamous moment, Thomas allegedly examined a can of Coke on her desk and asked, “Who has put pubic hair on my Coke?”
Ultimately, Thomas was approved for the Supreme Court and Hill went on with her own career. Today, she sits on the boards of directors for the National Women’s Law Center and the Boston Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, and has also chaired the Human Rights Committee of the International Bar Association.
“I’m proud to be leading this newly-formed Commission on a long overdue journey to adopt best practices and to create institutional change that fosters a culture of respect and human dignity throughout the industry,” Hill said in a statement. “We will be focusing on issues ranging from power disparity, equity and fairness, safety, sexual harassment guidelines, education and training, reporting and enforcement, ongoing research and data collection. It is time to end the culture of silence. I’ve been at this work for 26 years. This moment presents us with an unprecedented opportunity to make real change.”
The impetus for the new commission came from Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, who spoke out to call for its formation at an industry event. She joined with Nike Foundation founder and co-chair Maria Eitel, Del Shaw partner Nina Shaw and venture capitalist Freada Kapor Klein to invite leaders to the meeting where they agreed to establish and fund the commission. It will meet again early next year to define its mission, scope and priorities.
“The Commission will not seek just one solution, but a comprehensive strategy to address the complex and inter-related causes of the problems of parity and power,” Kennedy said in a statement. “The fact that so many industry leaders – across film, television, music, digital, unions, agencies, ATA, AMPAS, television academy and guilds – came together, in one room, to explore solutions, speaks to a new era.”
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