Bullying and harassment ‘alarmingly current’ in creative industries, MPs told

A new body that seeks to be a voluntary regulator of the creative industries has said that “bullying and harassment and discrimination remain alarmingly current” across the sector.

The Women and Equalities Committee had a further meeting following the Misogyny In Music inquiry report, which found that sexual harassment and abuse was common, and the non-reporting of such incidents was high.

Representatives from the Creative Industries Independent Standards Authority (CIISA), Jen Smith, interim chief executive, and Andrew Medlock, interim chief operating officer, appeared in front of MPs on Wednesday to update them on their plans for the new body.

The voluntary organisation could issue “restorative impact warnings that we may issue to individuals or organisations” and “for the most concerning behaviours” might look at legal routes or publish that there had been non-compliance, Ms Smith said.

She told the committee: “This is a timely appearance before you, because whilst the Misogyny In Music inquiry has concluded, scrutiny into how the music industry and the wider creative industries conduct themselves has not, and bullying and harassment and discrimination remain alarmingly current.

“CIISA is set to go live by the end of this year in December, which is contingent on our funding ask.”

She added that 80 leading organisations from film, TV, music and theatre had joined as supporters, which on its website included Sky, BBC, ITV and Channel 4. Audio, fashion, advertising, games and publishing were set to follow in 2025.

Ms Smith spoke about a survey conducted by PA Consulting.

“We got the results last week, 800 creative industry professionals responded and 91% were in favour of CIISA, with 84% of those respondents saying that they would use our services once we go live in December, yet again demonstrating that CIISA remains urgent and essential,” she added.

She also said that “significant legal advice in relation to GDPR” had been taken to make sure their handling of the personal data of creative professionals reporting wrongdoing was robust.

“We have thought very carefully about this, we have a three-year window in terms of historical allegations (going) forward that we’ve put in our current plans,” Ms Smith added.

“It’s difficult to look at peer standards authorities and regulators and anticipate what demand might be but we are confident in our business plan that we are accommodating for potentially a rush of people wanting to use CIISA services.”

Mr Medlock said they would not be able to investigate “every case” because it was “resource intensive”.

“We want to ensure that we’re balancing that out by early dispute resolution through mediation support and advice to ensure that we’re adding value wherever we can,” he added.

“But we’ll only be investigating the most serious and complex cases.”

When asked about the body looking at a “Harvey Weinstein-type figure” where there was current and historical concern, Mr Medlock responded, saying it was “all about the planning and it’s all about the breadth and scope”.

He also said: “We want to be very clear about not going into fishing expeditions, for example, making sure that we’re very laser focused on what needs to be addressed.

“Bearing in mind that (investigations are) very resource intensive and can take years if you don’t get it right.”

Hollywood producer Weinstein was sentenced to 16 years in prison for rape and sexual assault in Los Angeles last year.

He was previously convicted of a different rape and sexual assault conviction in New York, for which he received a sentence of 23 years.