BFI’s head of inclusion leads the new anti-bullying body for film and TV

The UK’s new anti-bullying body for film and TV – The Independent Stands Authority (ISA) – has appointed its interim CEO in the BFI’s current director of culture and inclusion, Jen Smith.

The new organization has confirmed financial support from major UK broadcasters BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, as well as Sky.

The entity’s specific mandate will be formalized and announced for a planned launch in 2024 with the aim also of expanding the reach of its authority by also overseeing other sectors such as music, theater, fashion and advertising.

Smith, who is seconded to ISA until a permanent CEO is found, said the organization “will have the power to conduct investigations and will do so without fear or favor.”

Smith has been on a trajectory to do more in this area for some time now. Recently, last year, she helped direct a stock list with BAFTA and several other media and entertainment companies to help prevent racism, bullying and harassment in the workplace.

“For too long, the creative industries have failed to provide an independent place for people to report experiences of misconduct, bullying and harassment,” said Smith. “The establishment of the ISA will be transformative in helping to fill this void. We know we stand on the shoulders of many who have made significant efforts to drive positive change to improve our workplace culture and will continue to build on this courageous leadership. “

Brandy Ferrer, CEO of Pathfinder Strategies, an organization set up to advise on HR issues for companies as well as ethics and leadership, said it is “certainly needed” in the industry in the wake of multiple and consistent scandals revealed.

“If there is an industry that needs a body like this, it would be the entertainment industry,” he said. “Listening to the horrific stories about Harvey Weinstein and others showed that there was a lack of fear in being accountable for senior executives and talent, as well as a clear lack of understanding of professionalism in a work environment.”

“It is very easy to work in the entertainment industry and feel that office rules do not apply due to the work on set or stage and the creative nature of the industry. The ISA will help ensure that the rules apply to everyone, regardless of position, height or circumstances. “

The other element on which Ferrer felt was leadership. Commenting that Pathfinder teaches that leadership often comes from the top and comes down, and that leadership must be strong and have a zero tolerance policy for bullying in all forms, while promoting a healthy environment.

“Responsibility is fundamental. When something goes astray, before looking for someone or something to blame, take a look at yourself. Ask yourself: ‘Was I clear about the expectations?’, ‘Did I do a good job supporting this person in this project?’ “Did I ask questions to check understanding?” “What could I have done better or differently for a different result?”

“We are all human. None of us are perfect. None of us are infallible. Have grace with yourself. Have grace with others ”.

“Great leadership equals managing work positively and empowering people to make the right decisions.”

On the task the ISA must perform to help solve industry problems, Ferrer concluded that it is not just about putting out fires and holding people accountable, but also about preventing fires and teaching people the right way to do things. what’s this.

“These were the circumstances I was dealing with when I quit my corporate job and founded Pathfinder Strategies. I have witnessed firsthand the impact of great leadership and healthy cultures. I enjoyed going to work, the people I worked with were hardworking and goal-focused, I helped innovate products and processes, and I got to shine, grow and advance in my career. I have also experienced ineffective leaders and toxic cultures. Working in suspicious environments, lacking in communication and accountability, which ultimately led to poor results. “

He added: “I knew that cultivating healthy cultures and great leaders didn’t have to be a very expensive undertaking, but rather could be approached incrementally with guidance, support and practice.”

Founded in partnership with BFI, BAFTA, Time’s Up UK and its chairman Heather Rabbatts, the ISA hopes to respond to the persistent call for a body to help prevent violations of conduct in the entertainment world.

Rabbatts said of Smith she has been “so important in leading the work on preventing harassment and bullying with industry partners in recent years.”

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