Combatting Sexual Harassment:
Resources, Inspirations and Good Practices

Sexual Harassment Resource Page

As FIA’s members and sister organisations find different ways of tackling sexual harassment in the sector, we have created this dedicated resource section to bring together the many interesting examples shared from across the globe.

Here you will find introductions and links to a wealth of resources, intended as both a source of guidance and of inspiration.

FIA Manual on Combatting Sexual Harassment

The FIA manual – Resources, Inspiration and Recommended Practices among Performer Unions for Combatting Sexual Harassment – comes at a crucial time…

FIA Manual on Combatting Sexual Harassment

Violence and Harassment in the Workplace in the Audiovisual and Performing Arts Industry in Latin America: survey results and campaign materials

Benchmarking, Measuring and Understanding Harassment

Many of the member unions of FIA have underpinned their work on sexual harassment with membership surveys intended to give them more insight into the scale of the issue and the day-to-day experience of their members. Surveys can be a vital first step in developing a targeted and effective strategy.

  • Canadian Actors’ Equity Association (CAEA) ran a survey in this area in 2015 entitled “Safe and Respectful Workplaces”. Here’s a Summary of the Findings and you can download the questions used. In 2020, the Ryerson University made a survey among CAEA’s membership to assess the impact of their campaign “Not in Our Space“. The comparison of the results of the two surveys shows great improvements in tackling harassment and discrimination in the live performance sector.
  • Equity UK carried out a joint survey with the Federation of Entertainment Unions in the UK in 2014, which pointed to a worrying culture of bullying and sexual harassment. The report “Creating without Conflict” also resulted in the development of sectoral guidelines.
  • Irish Equity ran a Membership Survey on this issue in 2016, which again served as a basis for developing several tools (included in the relevant sections below).
Online survey on violence and harassment in the workplaces

In July 2021, the regional groups of FIA (FIA-LA) and UNI MEI and their affiliates launched an online survey on violence and harassment in the workplaces of the audiovisual and performing arts industries in Latin America.

The alarming results collected through this survey are available in a report on the FIA Website.

2021 workplace experience survey by Irish Theatre Institute

In 2021, the Irish Theatre Institute published the results of a survey conducted among workers in the artistic sector on their “workplace experience of bullying, harassment, sexual harassment, humiliation, victimisation, assault and sexual assault.”

The 70 pages report includes a literature review, survey analysis and resulting recommendations for a respectful work environment. The institute’s webpage also collects useful external resources on the topic.

SzeneSchweiz 2020' sexual harassment in the performing arts

SzeneSchweiz conducted a survey on sexual harassment in the performing arts in 2020 (available here in German) uncovering the dramatic number of 80% of the respondents having experienced sexual harassment within the past two years, 70% of which are women and 81% of the abusers men. 53% of the cases consisted of verbal abuse and 22% physical abuse.

Codes of Conduct:
Shared Principles as a Basis for Change

Engaging with employer counterparts and other sectoral stakeholders is a fundamental part of driving a culture change within the sector. Agreeing a shared vision and concrete steps on how to achieve it is a very constructive way of doing this. An agreed Code of Conduct can then become a shared reference and framework and may for example be usefully addended to contracts or otherwise widely communicated in the sector

  • ACTRA has been instrumental in developing and launching a Canadian Creative Industries Code of Conduct, adopted in February 2018 by a broad section of the industry. It is a commitment and a foundation for further work.
  • The Quebec based Canadian union UDA has also worked on a Code of Conduct in French with l’Aparté
  • In Ireland, work is underway to developing a Code of Behaviour for use in theatre, led by the Irish Theatre Institute, with the support of Irish Equity Group. An event held in March 2018 sought to build consensus around the proposed code for theatre.
  • SAGA the South African Guild of Actors has also developed a Code of Practice with industry stakeholders setting out principles and policy for the elimination of sexual harassment.
  • In February 2018, SAG AFTRA launched its Code of Conduct on Sexual Harassment (as part of a wider strategy detailed below). It defines sexual harassment and details what constitutes a hostile work environment, retaliation, and other types of prohibited conduct.
  • The American Actors’ Equity Association has also released a detailed and useful Code of Conduct in order to promote respectful workplaces.
  • Canadian Actors’ Equity Association updated in 2022 its Respectful Workplace Policy.
  • SzeneSchweiz drafted a Code of Conduct against “inappropriate behaviour, bullying and sexual harassment in the workplace” which includes a short guide on how to react in case of an incident.

Informing, Raising Awareness, Mobilising Support and Calling for Change

Campaigning around sexual harassment can take many different forms. This is a direct reflection of the fact that campaign aims vary greatly: from informing members of their rights; denouncing unacceptable practice; providing a safe space to share experience; or driving a practical change in workspaces. The highly varied campaigns below offer ideas on how these different aims have been approached and the levels of resources and scale they have required. Some are union-led, some are artist-led, some are joint social partner initiatives. Most are ongoing.

  • In Belgium an artist-led campaign, with the support of ACOD Cultuur, called “Engagement Arts” sets out a vision for an inclusive and harassment-free artistic sector and seeks to build grass roots support through its signatories.
  • In Canada: the “Not in Our Space” campaign is a joined-up initiative from Canadian Actors Equity Association and the Canadian Theatre Producers Association that drives workplace change through awareness raising and the use of practical support tools.
  • In France, the Syndicat Français des Artistes Interprètes (SFA) has developed  an awareness-raising strategy, using an online ‘safe space’ for anonymous testimony and experience-sharing called “l’envers du décor
  • In South-Africa, SWIFT (Sisters Working in Film and Television), in collaboration with SAGA, has launched a series of videos raising awareness about sexual harassment as part of a campaign called #ThatsNotOk. 
  • UNI Global Union initiated a campaign at international level to help unions in all sectors to tackle and prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. This campaign, called No Excuses.”, is part of a wider platform ( which offers resources and tools such as booklets, guides, videos, fact-sheets, quizzes and more. All contents are available in English, French and Spanish. 

  • In the UK, as part of a wider strategy, Equity is developing a “Safe Space Campaign” to inform and raise-awareness among performers in their daily working lives.
  • In Israel, the Actors Organization Shaham has published a Manifesto for the Prevention of Sexual Harassment in the Acting World.
  • The Danish Actors’ Association has launched the Stregen I Sandet campaign (in danish), together with 12 other organisations in the film, television and performing arts sectors, to combat harassment and abuse of power in the workplace. It includes an action guide on how to create a safe working culture, aimed at people in positions of responsibility such as employers, union representatives and producers; a hand-out where to add designated contact persons and to distribute within the organisation; a campaign film.

Helplines in Place to Counsel and Protect Victims of Sexual Harassment at Work

Unions are beginning to provide services that offer immediate support for performers who are experiencing sexual harassment or bullying in their working environment. Anonymous hotlines are a safe point of contact for victims to receive emergency advice and support from trained professionals in any situation- whether it be on set or out of hours. These services are informal aiming to alleviate any anxieties with taking further action.

  • In the UK, Equity have set up a Bullying and Harassment Helpline dedicated to advising members about their situation as well as providing support for any mental health concerns.

  • In Canada, members can reach out to “Respectful Workplace Advisers” via phone or e-mail. This service is provided by the Canadian Actors Equity Association CAEA as part of their “Not in Our Space” campaign.

  • MEAA Australia have devised a PDF that lists a range of regional and national helplines for harassment victims regarding legal support, counseling and mental health.

  • In 2017, SAG-AFTRA declared zero tolerance of discrimination and harassment and have listed a 24/7 emergency hotline for members that are concerned with these issues.

  • The American Actors Equity Association have several offices in place as well as a toll-free hotline dedicated to providing confidential advice and support regarding harassment in the workplace.

  • In Ireland, Irish Equity have included a contact email address and number in their Bullying and Harassment Policy for confidential support with a team member.

  • In the Netherlands, the MORES hotline and support service offers guidance from an experienced and confidential advisor trained in dealing with undesirable behaviors in the workplace. It was created with the support of Kunstenbond and other sectoral stakeholders.

  • In Chile, SIDARTE (in collaboration with Corporación de Desarrollo de la Mujer La Morada) have created a dedicated e-mail contact performers can use to report on any gender based act of violence, including sexual harassment. 

  • The Danish Actor’s Association has trained its staff to handle situations of workplace harassment and encourages members to reach out to them to seek advice if they experience sexual harassment or abuse of power at work.

  • In Canada, ACTRA and the Directors Guild of Canada (DGC) jointly launched the HAVEN (Harassment and Violence Emergency Network) Helpline, a bilingual critical incident reporting line available to ACTRA and DGC members across Canada as of June 2019. The HAVEN Helpline offers 24/7 support from Morneau Shepell, the leading provider of assistance programs in Canada.

  • In Switzerland, the Syndicat Suisse Romand du Spectacle launched a pilot project Safe Spaces Culture in 2021 to fight against harassment, mobbing and discrimination. It comprises of a helpline per email or telephone in French and English as well as a survey among professionals on the experience of harassment and discrimination.

  • SzeneSchweiz has set up an anonymous and online reporting platform encouraging anyone experiencing or witnessing workplace abuse to report it.

  • The German union BFFS is collecting anonymous cases of sexual harassment and abuses at the workplace experienced or witnessed by its members in order to have a better understanding of the situation and act upon it. The union also shared a list of professional helplines (in German), including Themis which is specialised in the culture and media sector.

Tools, Tips and Tricks of the Trade:
Strategies for empowering and protecting performers in their working lives

Unions around the world are coming up with new ideas on how they can practically support their members in relation to sexual harassment. Ideas have emerged on how to offer concrete support in vulnerable situations (eg: during casting; during filming or on stage performance of nude or sexual scenes). Better promotion of member-to-member support and empowerment is also under discussion as a useful strategy for mutual support.

  • Equity UK has sought to shine a light on the Casting process, both from the point of view of the protection of performers and the promotion of diversity and, resultingly, published the Equity Casting Manifesto.

  • Irish Equity has created a number of guidance documents for members, including its Audition Guidelines and its Bullying and Harassment Policy. It has also been active in the development of the wider industry Amplify Women Toolkit, intended as a simple guide to help freelance workers and employees of any gender if they are experiencing bullying or harassment.

  • Equity New Zealand published an Intimacy Guidelines for Stage and Screen to help performers prepare for and manage nudity and simulated sex scenes on screen or stage. Equity NZ also collaborates with the organisation Screen Safe based in New Zealand that shares a series of guidelines on sexual harassment prevention and the support for victims.
  • In Sweden, Scen och Film (along with the Swedish Performing Arts Association) has appointed a Comission Against Sexual Harassment. This commission has produced a complete strategic report entitled “An opportunity to create change”, now available in English. In 2023, Scen och Film also published, together with the Swedish Performing Arts Association, Guidelines for intimacy scenes.

  • Working with Intimacy Directors is something that several FIA member unions are examining and which some have referenced in their collective bargaining as a possible recourse or outside support to be sought if needed. This is a growing area, which unions will continue to explore. The international organisation of intimacy directors is Intimacy Directors International and the website gives more insight into their work, accreditation and methodology. Further resources are also complied on the resources page of a new New Zealander Intimacy Coordinators Aotearoa website.

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