How to prevent hostile work environments in the film industry | Raindance

The film industry isn’t immune to hostile work environments. That’s evident in how 2017’s Me Too movement exposed countless sexual assault allegations against Hollywood figures. These situations have started to change for the better in many ways. But there’s still much to do in terms of action and prevention.

Here’s a look at how you can recognize and limit discrimination in your place of work.

What Do Hostile Work Environments Involve?

A hostile work environment makes certain colleagues’ jobs more difficult and uncomfortable due to discrimination. These situations can involve anything from sexual harassment to ethnic intimidation.

In the United Kingdom, you or your co-workers are unlawfully discriminated against when someone targets your “protected characteristics.” These traits include:

  • Sex
  • Age
  • Race
  • Gender reassignment
  • Disability
  • Sexual orientation
  • Religion

There are various ways in which people may discriminate against you. The different kinds of discrimination include direct, indirect, harassment and victimisation. Some are more difficult to identify than others.

Here’s a quick overview of these types to give you more insight.

1. Direct Discrimination

This sort is the more obvious discrimination one might face in the workplace. An example would be barring an older screenwriter from the writing room when it’s time to cover a storyline meant to resonate with younger audiences. Their age is seen as something that would affect the project.

It’s sometimes challenging to tell whether direct discrimination is happening. That’s especially true in an environment like the film industry, where everything seems to be up for interpretation.

2. Indirect Discrimination

The indirect type of discrimination usually occurs when rules or regulations inadvertently target a specific group. These are plans that prevent you from achieving something because of circumstances you can’t control.

It’s typically an accident or oversight, but you can still take action against indirect discrimination as long as others have felt targeted, too.

3. Harassment

Harassment is when someone verbally or physically harms another person. These actions can take many forms — ranging from making homophobic comments to mimicking sexual gestures. The attacking individual does this to make their victim feel intimidated, weak and isolated.

One common tactic abusers use is known as gaslighting. They might say or do something to you only to later deny or fabricate things to make you rethink what occurred. If you’re made to think you blew things out of proportion, it’s not long before you believe it’s not a big deal.

4. Victimisation

This kind of discrimination occurs when someone is targeted because they supported a co-worker’s claim or voiced their own opinions about discrimination. The people perpetuating discrimination in the workplace make this individual feel ashamed since they don’t want others speaking out against them.

How to Recognise Signs of Hostility

Knowing what to do about a hostile workplace starts with recognising the signs. There are numerous possible signs of a hostile environment in the film industry and elsewhere.

Think about whether you’ve noticed any of the above types of discrimination at your place of employment. If you spot a few similarities, you should narrow down specific situations.

Here are some examples of potential scenarios to help you identify hostile behaviour:

  • A production assistant is making sexist comments about actresses during shoots.
  • You’re rejected from a job because you’ll have to go on maternity leave for your pregnancy.
  • A fellow screenwriter wants to incorporate racist jokes into the project. They also make questionable statements about your Asian co-worker.
  • You’re cornered by a producer who makes inappropriate comments concerning your appearance. They say they’ll make sure you never get another job if you tell anyone.
  • You work with a casting director who routinely auditions more white people than black people for roles that aren’t race-specific.

Conversing with co-workers can allow you to identify potentially harmful individuals, as well. If you and your colleagues share an experience, it’s something to consider reporting. But what can you do when you determine you’re in a hostile work environment?

What to Do About a Hostile Workplace

Discovering a hostile environment in the film industry can be a significant task. It’s important to know what to do when you come across something that doesn’t sit right with you or others. You should consider taking different approaches to address specific kinds of hostility.

Is the perpetrator a single abuser? This case is best handled by gathering evidence of abuse, documenting other people’s experiences and speaking with your supervisor. If you’re dealing with a toxic workplace culture, it’s smart to bring the case to human resources to request policy changes.

It can be intimidating and overwhelming to take a stand against discrimination in the workplace. The best way to prevent future occurrences is to tell someone about your experience. This way, you can ensure your superiors are aware. Then, you and your entire organization can take action.

Don’t stop pushing for reform after you make your voice heard. A strong push to educate workers and protect minorities will make a difference. You can accomplish a lot through adequate communication, too.

Improving Work Environments in the Film Industry

As an employee in the film industry, you’re a part of a unique work experience. That factor doesn’t mean your field is exempt from hostile work environments. It’s essential to recognise discriminatory behaviour so that you and others can make those actions known. Use this information to help in the fight against hostility in your workplace.



Ginger Abbot is a freelance writer and graduate student with a passion for helping others find their career paths. Read more of her work on Classrooms, where she serves as Managing Editor.