×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Anita Hill Calls for Anti-Sexual Harassment Policies With ‘Teeth’ at Variety’s Inclusion Summit

Attorney and law professor Anita Hill, a trailblazer in raising public awareness of sexual harassment nearly three decades ago, issued a call to action after allegations of sexual misconduct have, in recent weeks, toppled a growing roster of powerful men in Hollywood.

Hill on Wednesday participated in a keynote conversation moderated by activist and television host Chelsea Handler at Variety‘s Inclusion Summit. The event comes just a month after the New York Times and New Yorker first published their blockbuster reports exposing decades of sexual misbehavior by disgraced studio mogul Harvey Weinstein.

In the weeks since, a litany of men — directors, showrunners, studio executives, talent agents, and others — have faced allegations of behaving inappropriately. Across the entertainment industry, a groundswell has formed as Hollywood grapples with how to improve the climate for vulnerable men and women.

“We are making change,” Hill said. “It’s not instant and there won’t be one tipping point, there will be many,” adding that nonetheless this movement “is monumental.”

Addressing a roomful of Hollywood decision makers, Hill called for the implementation of policies and procedures with teeth. Complaints, Hill said, shouldn’t fall into a black hole and left to languish. “If you have any kind of status that allows you to make change, use it,” she said.

She chastised corporate payouts to accused sexual harassers, notably Fox News founder Roger Ailes, who received $40 million in severance pay.

“When you have this kind of evidence — and it sounds even silly to say — a huge payoff is not appropriate,” Hill said. “These are not only bad ethical and legal decisions — they’re bad business decisions.”

Addressing the hundreds of women who have come forward to accuse powerful men of misbehavior, Hill lamented that not much progress has been made in how accusers are treated when making allegations public.

“One of the things that really is troubling to me,” Hill said, is that “it still takes about 30 women to come forward before one woman is believed.”

She added: “Our word is as valuable as the word of our abusers.”

Hill first became known to the country in 1991 when she alleged that then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her when she worked for him at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Department of Education.

Images of Hill’s testimony before an all-male Senate Judiciary Committee became iconic and revealed the great gender imbalance in Congress. Thomas was nonetheless confirmed, and in the wake of her testimony, women ran for office in droves.

Despite the intense media scrutiny that dogged Hill in the early 1990s, she was adamant it was worth it.

“It was the right thing to do. I had a voice. I had an opportunity,” Hill said. “No matter how difficult it has been, at the time and since then, I would do it again.”

More Biz

  • Former movie producer Harvey Weinstein (L)

    Some Weinstein Accusers Balk at $30 Million Settlement

    Updated: Some of Harvey Weinstein’s accusers are not satisfied with a proposed $30 million settlement of their harassment claims, and may not agree to the deal, Variety has learned. Attorneys in the Weinstein Co. bankruptcy case told Judge Mary Walrath on Thursday that they are close to a global resolution of the civil litigation. The [...]

  • Director Dean DeBlois and online game

    'Dragon' Director Dean DeBlois and PUBG's CH Kim to Keynote 2019 VIEW Conference

    Dean DeBlois, director and executive producer of DreamWorks Animation’s “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” and PUBG Corporation CEO CH Kim are the first keynote speakers announced for the 2019 VIEW Conference in Turin, Italy, in October. Since it began 12 years ago, VIEW, which stands for Virtual Interactive Emerging World, has continually [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein

    Harvey Weinstein Accusers Near Settlement in Bankruptcy Case

    Attorneys in the Weinstein Co. bankruptcy case say they are getting close to reaching a settlement that would compensate Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct accusers. The company went bankrupt last year, as it faced hundreds of millions of dollars in debt and numerous civil suits on behalf of Weinstein’s alleged victims. The company sold to Lantern [...]

  • Ari Emanuel Endeavor

    Endeavor IPO Filing Offers Details of Company's Financials, Leadership Pay Packages

    Endeavor’s IPO filing Thursday offers a hard look at the company’s financial performance during the past three years during a period of rapid growth for the company that’s home to UFC, WME, Professional Bull Riders and a clutch of other assets. Endeavor is generating solid free cash flow from operations and healthy adjusted earnings for [...]

  • Pamela Anderson

    Pamela Anderson Fears Julian Assange 'Won't Survive' Extradition to U.S.

    After previously speaking out in support of her friend and WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, Pamela Anderson doesn’t think he would survive an extradition from the U.K. to the U.S. “I hope he gets out of there, but I don’t think he’ll survive extradition. It can’t happen. It’s not even an option. We can’t have him [...]

  • Jane Austin SAG AFTRA

    SAG-AFTRA Secretary-Treasurer Jane Austin Running for President

    Jane Austin, the National Secretary-Treasurer of SAG-AFTRA, has become the third candidate for the presidency of the performers union, joining incumbent Gabrielle Carteris and Matthew Modine. Austin is running as an independent for the top post at SAG-AFTRA, which has 160,000 members. Carteris will seek re-election as the head of the ticket for the Unite [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content