Confidential helplines should be brought into creative industries to tackle workplace bullying and discrimination, says report

By Angela Haggerty | Reporter

November 19, 2013 | 4 min read

Confidential hotlines should be introduced across the creative industries for employed and freelance workers to report incidences of bullying, discrimination and harassment, a report has recommended.

The study, commissioned by the Federation of Entertainment Unions, surveyed more than 4,000 people working throughout a range of areas in the creative industry, and on average 56 per cent said they’d experienced some form of bullying, while 52 per cent they had witnessed it in the workplace.

More than two-thirds of respondents who worked in TV, radio, film and newspapers said they had been ill-treated at work, with all respondents working in local newspapers saying they had experienced bullying, discrimination or harassments in the workplace.

Report: More than half of respondents had experience bullying

But despite substantial experiences of bullying and discrimination, the survey found that only a third of workers reported it, while freelance workers were the least likely to report issues. Among those who did report problems and were satisfied with the outcome of their case, 45 per cent had involved a relevant union involved to represent them.

At the launch of the report on Tuesday morning at the Creating without Conflict conference in London, the introduction of confidential hotlines was recommended alongside better training for both workers and management on how to deal with unreasonable behaviour.

Michelle Stanistreet, National Union of Journalists (NUJ) general secretary, said: “It has been heartbreaking to deal with members whose dreams have been shattered because of the behaviour of their managers and of failure of employers to tackle bullying and bullies.

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“I have heard testimonies from members who said, ‘News editors threw reporters on to the same story, everyone was terrified of putting a foot wrong. People were under such pressure. Reporters were effectively encouraged to shaft each other. It was such a demoralising situation’ and from women journalists who had been offered a promotion in return for having sex with their boss.”

The report found that in the media and entertainment industries, women were more likely to be targets of bullying, with 64 per cent saying they had been treated badly compared with 49 per cent of men. Women commonly reported sexual harassment as a problem, which ranged from feeling that there was pressure to enter into a sexual relationship by a person in a position of power, to lewd gestures and even physical molestation in some cases.

Sexism in the newspaper industry was also identified as a problem by respondents, with one reporting: “There is an old-fashioned macho culture by which bullying is seen as almost an honour.

“You have to put up with it to earn your stripes, and anything else is considered a weakness. This needs to be dismantled from the top down. Newspapers in particular are often highly sexist environments.”

The report follows the results of an investigation at the BBC earlier this year, the Respect At Work review, which uncovered serious allegations of workplace bullying and sexual harassment at the organisation that stretched over seven years.


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