Reprogramming the Sex Code
#MeToo has been a high profile and powerful movement. But has it really changed the media and entertainment industry ?
The Location Guide and WAP (Women Advertising Production) with FairFX and Story: organised a discussion at this year’s Cannes Lions. Six influential women examined the evidence, shared their own stories of sexual harassment and suggested realistic next steps to a fairer workplace.
“We have been delivered some very powerful messages, but we are feeling somehow it has being diluted, “ said Jess aan de Wiel, founder and Director WAP introducing the panel. “Now there are even articles saying that men are actually afraid of hiring women. What we’d like to do is move forward and look to the future.”
The panelists agreed that a code of conduct is vital, whether a written company code or a less formal set of guidelines. “It’s important for women to make very clear where the boundaries are,” said Claire Donald, chief production officer at Ogilvy London.
Ana Laura Solis, the founder and ceo of Story: We Produce suggested, “as a general rule of thumb, ask ‘would you treat your male colleague like this?”
Staff parties are a flashpoint for potential harassment and worse. A production company owner in the audience had allegations of rape leveled between employees after one party. Her advice: have someone in charge to polices office parties.
All the panelists had practical suggestions. Just as you give training to someone if they don’t know Photoshop, there should be training about female empowerment. More mentoring was one way forward - between women and between men and women - to boost confidence and offer support. Another idea was for people to compare coping strategies for dealing with different types of harassment.
The discussion tackled the difficulties of reporting incidents, confusion around non-disclaimers and the vulnerability of freelancers. Talking to a senior male member of staff about a sensitive situation could also be a red light. One way around this would be to identify a senior woman as a go to person.
At the end of the session, the panelists were inspired to work towards zero tolerance of sexual misconduct. A follow up to the panel is being planned for FOCUS in December in London.
Scarlett Montanaro, Creative, 18 Feet and Rising
Lyndy Stout, Editor, 1.4
Ana Laura Solis, Founder/CEO-, Story: We Produce
Clare Donald, Chief Production Officer, Ogilvy London
Jess aan de Wiel, Founder & Director WAP
Kate Jenner, WAP Spain
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