Mini Guide 2

Be clear about bullying, racism, harassment and discrimination

What you need to know

More than 4 in 5 people working in TV and film have experienced or witnessed bullying or harassment in the workplace, according to Film and TV Charity’s 2019 Looking Glass survey. It’s one of the main causes of poor mental health in our industry.

Almost 3 in 5 people of colour in the industry have experienced racial harassment or discrimination, which can have a profound, complex impact on mental health. Experiencing bullying, harassment or discrimination of any kind can be confusing and isolating – and it’s never OK.

You need to make sure each team member knows what bullying, harassment, racism and other discrimination can look like, what policy and reporting process you have in place and who they can talk to if they experience or witness it. Aim to build a culture and environment where people feel they will be supported if they report their experiences and feel confident that action will be taken. Senior team members, such as execs, should lead by example and model expected behaviour.

The BFI/BAFTA Principles and Guidance are widely regarded as the industry standard on bullying, racism and harassment. The principles are nine simple statements about values and expected behaviour. In the guidance you’ll find advice, definitions and examples. In television, section 3 of the Coalition for Change Freelance Charter also sets out expectations around behaviour. Visit Mini Guide 1: Discuss and agree your production wellbeing plan in the Pre-production section for information about adopting or adapting these codes of conduct as the values for your own production.

So what’s the difference between bullying, harassment and racism?

Bullying is generally seen as unjustified, offensive behaviour that makes you feel undermined, intimidated, insulted or humiliated. Being bullied can make you doubt yourself and have a long-term impact on your self-confidence. Bullies thrive in working environments where co-workers look the other way or fear that offering support will have negative repercussions.

Bullying could follow a regular pattern of behaviour or be a one-off, and it can include , which are everyday verbal or behavioural communications that send hostile or negative messages to marginalised individuals, even unintentionally, such as excluding one team member from a lunch invite. Bullying is not illegal under current legislation, but it is unacceptable. It can also have indirect legal repercussions as an employee who is bullied can claim constructive unfair dismissal for breach of health and safety requirements.

Harassment is a term used colloquially to mean different things, but from a legal perspective, the definition from the Equality Act 2010 is usually used when it comes to workplace harassment. This essentially defines it as bullying when it’s connected to one of these ‘protected characteristics’: age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. (Marriage and civil partnerships, and pregnancy and maternity, are also protected characteristics but are treated differently when it comes to harassment.)

Someone’s conduct can count as harassment even if they didn’t intend to harass you, they’re wrong about you having that characteristic or you did not tell them how you felt about it. It’s about the effect it had on an individual – even if it was directed at someone else.

There are numerous ways to define racism, and the following definition is based on one by The Runnymede Trust: It defines racism as power and the elevation of some populations to positions of primacy and domination and the denigration and subordination of others. Racism is enacted and reproduced, as well as by individuals, by institutional forces in society, with results that can be seen, for example, in the courtroom, the boardroom and the classroom.

Additionally, the Equality Act 2010 says you must not be discriminated against because of your race, which is a protected characteristic. In the Equality Act, race can mean your colour, or your nationality (including your citizenship). It can also mean your ethnic or national origins, which may not be the same as your current nationality. For example, you may have Chinese national origins and be living in Britain with a British passport. Race also covers ethnic and racial groups. This means a group of people who all share the same protected characteristic of ethnicity or race.

Racial discrimination can take many forms. This includes direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation and may look like a person of colour on your production being treated badly because of a race discrimination complaint they have raised, racist language being used on a set but dismissed as “banter” by the crew or someone not being employed, because they cover their hair or have requested specific time for prayers.

Discrimination is the unjust, illegal, or prejudicial treatment of different categories or groups of people, for example due to age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnerships, pregnancy and maternity.

Actions you can take