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Hollywood forms anti-sexual harassment commission

December 17, 2017

The gender equality activist will head the group aimed at fighting power abuse and sexual misconduct in the entertainment industry. Its creation is "a historic step" in the aftermath of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

USA Protest #MeToo pins
Image: Reuters/L. Nicholson

The major players in the Hollywood film and entertainment industry announced on Friday that they would back and finance a commission aimed at fighting sexual misconduct and inequality in the industry.

"The commission will lead the entertainment industry toward alignment in achieving safer, fairer, more equitable and accountable workplaces —particularly for women and marginalized people," a news release said, as reported by the US newspaper The New York Times.

Anita Hill
Hill will lead the new commission on fighting power abuse in HollywoodImage: picture-alliance/dpa/Invision/W. Sanjuan

The newly founded commission, named the Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace, will be headed by law professor and gender equality activist Anita Hill. 

The commission's birth stems from the tidal wave of alleged sexual abuse scandals in the aftermath of the Harvey Weinstein revelations that also launched the #MeToo movement.

Since reports of widespread sexual harassment by the Hollywood behemoth producer were brought to light this past October, subsequent allegations have caused prominent men to be fired or step down from positions of power, with much of this occurring in the media and entertainment industry.

'Parity and power'

The commission's creation was announced by "Star Wars" producer Kathleen Kennedy after a meeting with other headlining female industry figures.

"The Commission will not seek just one solution, but a comprehensive strategy to address the complex and interrelated causes of the problems of parity and power," Kennedy said in the release.

She also praised the widespread support the initiative has received from the major players in the entertainment industry, who attended the Friday meeting.

"The fact that so many industry leaders — across film, television, music, digital, unions, agencies ... and guilds — came together, in one room, to explore solutions speaks to a new era."

The commission's backers include the CEOs of Disney, Paramount and Universal Music Group, as well as the content head of Netflix and the chief executive of CBS broadcasting company. Many music academies, major agencies and unions also backed the commission's establishment.

From Congress hearing to Hollywood halls

The group selected law professor Anita Hill to head up the new commission. Hill brought workplace sexual harassment to the forefront of American consciousness when she testified in 1991 in Congress against Supreme Court justice nominee Clarence Thomas. Since then, Hill has been an outspoken advocate for racial and gender equality.

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"It is time to end the culture of silence," Hill said in a statement. "I've been at this work for 26 years. This moment presents us with an unprecedented opportunity to make real change."

The commission is set to meet just after the New Year to refine its mission, scope and priorities.

Actress and women's rights activist Jane Fonda welcomed the news of the commission's establishment as an action taken beyond the #metoo hashtag response.

cmb/ng (dpa, AP)