Bectu, the UK’s union for creative industry workers, has published the results of a survey showing that 92% of the workforce has witnessed or experienced bullying or harassment on grounds of their sex or gender in the workplace.

The research also points to a lack of adequate and trusted reporting mechanisms, with just 13% of UK creative workers confident that the industry is taking effective action to deter unwanted behaviours at work.


Bectu have published a survey showing 92% of creative workforce have witnessed or experienced bulying or harrassment

The survey of workers across the UK’s creative industries – including film and TV, theatre, live events, broadcasting and cinema – found that six in 10 creative workers had experienced unwanted and/or inappropriate touching, hugging or kissing; and a quarter have witnessed the circulation of pornography in the workplace.

Eighty-five per cent of those surveyed had experienced or witnessed an incident of sexual harassment in their place of work, and for half of those surveyed, incidents had occurred at a work-related social event.

For the majority, the perpetrator was a colleague (64%) or multiple colleagues (37%), and most likely someone senior (55%) or the person’s manager or head of department (26%). For those working in theatre, live events and cinemas, perpetrators were more likely to be attending events or members of the public.

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Respondents said that high-profile cases, such as the allegations against Russell Brand, have done little to shift the dial; only 14% say that high-profile cases have improved employers’ responses to sexual harassment in the creative sector.

Eighty-three per cent of respondents felt that behaviours that would be considered toxic and inappropriate in public life are often tolerated in the creative sector, and just a third of respondents (and less than a quarter of freelancers) felt confident about how to report an incident of sexual harassment at work.

More than 60% chose not to report an incident because they were worried it would negatively impact their career.

More than half of freelancers did not report incidents because they were worried that it might lose them work (59%) or that it would negatively impact their career (71% compared to 30% of full-time employees).

Many respondents talked about the power imbalances and that they felt disposable compared to performers or ‘talent’ that they worked with.

Bectu has launched a helpline for members who experience sexual harassment at work.

It has also called on broadcasters, studios, streamers, production companies and other creative industry bodies and employers to financially back the newly-established Creative Industries Independent Standards Authority – as 84% of industry workers say the sector needs an independent body to investigate, report and prevent harassment.

Philippa Childs, Head of Bectu, said: “It’s no secret that sexual harassment remains a scourge on the creative industries. While we hear lots of warm words and well-meaning policies and procedures abound, it is clear that a radical step-change is needed for the sector to meaningfully tackle this issue.

“While it’s been pleasing to see organisations from across the sector signal their support for the Creative Industries Independent Standards Authority, this needs to now be backed up by meeting CIISA’s financial ask of no more than 0.1% of organisations’ annual UK turnover. This will be critical to ensure the authority moves from its development to operational phase.”

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