Hollywood Commission finds women twice as likely to report bullying in workplace than men

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A new report released by the Anita Hill-led Hollywood Commission revealed that bullying in showbiz runs rampant across the board and women are reporting abusive conduct at a higher rate than men.

“Hollywood has an entrenched and endemic issue with bullying that is exacerbated by the industry’s power imbalances,” the latest report from the Hollywood Commission for Eliminating Harassment and Advancing Equality in the workplace found.

The report’s findings are based on a 110-question survey taken by 9,630 individuals over a three-month period from Nov. 20, 2019, to Feb. 24, 2020, who self-identified that they are currently working, pursuing work, or previously worked in the entertainment industry.

In it, the report reveals that women are twice as likely as men to report experiencing abusive workplace conduct often or very often, non-union workers were twice as likely to report all bullying behaviors, disabled workers were around twice as likely as those without disabilities to report all forms of workplace bullying, and female assistants under the age of 40 reported “stunning” rates of abuse that were two to three times higher than the overall sample.

Anita Hill attends the 10th annual DVF Awards in New York on April 11, 2019. A new report released by the Hollywood Commission, which she chairs, revealed that bullying in showbiz runs rampant across the board, especially for women.
(Andy Kropa/Invision/AP)

Moreover, the report found that workers under 40 years old were much more likely to report every form of bullying often or very often, with the reported rates decreasing steadily with age.

“I see that bullying is becoming more and more of an issue – it’s just an abuse of power in a different form,” one anonymous participant wrote. “And if you don't put up with it – they will hire someone else who will.  Simple fact. It's the way the industry has always operated.”

“I'm tired of working for a–holes, and a–holes covering for other a–holes, a–holes enabling a—holes,” another fumed. “I just wanted to work in this industry to tell stories and collaborate with other creative people.”

Workplace “bullying” was defined in the survey as intimidating or humiliating behaviors such as insults, sarcasm, gestures, yelling, physically aggressive behavior, swearing in a hostile manner and excessively harsh in criticism of one’s work.

“In Hollywood, bullying is condoned as part of ‘paying your dues’ on the way up and has been openly displayed in films like 1994’s ‘Swimming with Sharks’ and 2019’s ‘The Assistant,’" said Hill in a statement. “Bullying may once have been an accepted norm, but in 2020 workers understand the harm an environment rife with humiliating insults and sarcasm, swearing and throwing objects in anger, causes. And belittling, vulgar and demeaning language and behavior is a gateway to sexual harassment and other abusive conduct.”

Added Hill: “It’s time for Hollywood to commit to treating all workers with basic humanity and dignity.”

Meanwhile, the majority of survey respondents saw moderate to a lot of progress (65%) in promoting respect since October 2017.

Photo taken from the Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles California on April 17, 2017.

“This view is somewhat less positive than as to welcoming and valuing diverse backgrounds, experiences and perspectives (68%) or preventing harassment (69%) since October 2017,” the report reads. “There was also a substantial difference related to the age and gender identity of respondents, with females under the age of 39 reporting the least positive view of progress (55%), compared to nearly 80% of males 65 and older.”

In a concerted effort to thwart workplace bullying in Hollywood, the Hollywood Commission said it's conducting what they’re calling “Bystander Intervention” as based on their statistics, “when abusive conduct occurred, bystanders were present 69% of the time.”

“The Hollywood Commission is conducting bystander training to address harassment and bullying with 450 entertainment workers,” the survey report reads. “The training will include a virtual reality training, a web-based training, and six workshops tailored to the entertainment industry — two for television supervisors (directors, producers, and showrunners), two for film (directors, producers, UPMs) one for casting directors, and one for production workers.”

“Bystander intervention training teaches employees how to identify bullying or aggressive behaviors,” it adds.

The Commission was co-founded in 2017 by Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and entertainment attorney and Time’s Up co-founder Nina Shaw. The latest report is the third that has been released.


A report on sexual harassment and assault in the workplace is slated to be released later this month.

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