ISM response to Government sexual harassment in the workplace report

The Parliamentary Women and Equalities Committee has today, Wednesday 25 July, released a five-point plan to tackle sexual harassment in the workplace. After vital work and powerful advocacy from the ISM's Chief Executive, Deborah Annetts and Communications Manager, Francesca Treadaway to improve the workplace for musicians, we are pleased to see that the Government have listened to our recommendations and recognise the need for change across all sectors including the music industry.

Key extracts:

Surveys commissioned by media and other organisations, of which there was a spate following the emergence of #MeToo, therefore provide valuable insights into prevalence. The impression such surveys give of a widespread problem across many sectors is borne out by evidence we have received about, for example, the entertainment industry, teaching, journalism, hospitality, retail, healthcare, the music industry and the international charity sector. Throughout the world of work, in spite of the law, sexual harassment is an everyday, common occurrence.

We support the recommendation of the Equality and Human Rights Commission that the Government should place a mandatory duty on employers to protect workers from harassment and victimisation in the workplace.

If the judgment in Unite the Union v Nailard stands, the Government should bring forward legislation to place a positive duty on employers expressly to protect workers from harassment by third parties and to ensure that employers can be held liable for failure to take reasonable steps to protect staff from third-party harassment.

Deborah Annetts, CEO of the ISM, welcomed the report saying:

‘We welcome this timely report and encourage the Government to give serious consideration to its recommendations. The Committee explicitly notes the vulnerability of those working in the music industry and other similar sectors. Our own recent research found that 60% of musicians responding had been sexually harassed and that 77% of those who had been harassed had not reported the incident. The main reason for non-reporting was fear of losing work. The report from the Women and Equalities Committee, endorses our recommendation for the re-introduction of the rights around third-party harassment. The report also recognises the limitations of the Equality Act and we urge the Government to consider steps to ensure that self-employed professionals are protected. We also are strongly of the view that the use of discrimination questionnaires which was repealed in 2014 should be re-introduced.

‘Statutory changes are only part of the solution. Of equal importance is a shift in culture in the workplace and in the training environment. As the respondents to our survey said, we also need ongoing training so that everyone understands their rights and obligations and within the creative sector there needs to be a comprehensive sign-up to all the Codes of Practice that have now been developed following extensive consultations. Only in this way will we be able to change on a sustainable basis how employers and workers engage with one another.’