×
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

  • Times Up Hollywood

    Time's Up Entertainment Announces New Industry Mentoring Initiative

    Time’s Up Entertainment, an affiliate of the Time’s Up coalition of women across industries working to improve workplace safety, has announced the “Who’s in the Room” industry mentoring initiative. The program’s goal is to increase the presence of people of color from diverse backgrounds in the entertainment industry’s executive ranks. Funded by a $500,000 grant from [...]

  • Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt in

    Paramount Inks Deal for Theme Park in South Korea

    Paramount Pictures has announced a deal to install a studio-branded theme park in an entertainment resort being developed in South Korea. The agreement was struck between Paramount and Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment, which owns the Inspire Integrated Entertainment Resort in the South Korean city of Incheon. Mohegan has invested KRW 2.8 trillion ($2.4 billion) in [...]

  • Davan Maharaj Mel Gibson

    L.A. Times Publisher's Lawyer Was Accused of Extorting Mel Gibson

    The attorney who negotiated a $2.5 million exit package for L.A. Times publisher Davan Maharaj was previously accused of using secret recordings to extort actor Mel Gibson. Surreptitious recordings also figure in the Maharaj case. NPR reported on Wednesday that Maharaj taped Tronc chairman Michael Ferro. According to the report, Ferro was heard on the [...]

  • 'Blurred Lines' Suit Ends With $5

    'Blurred Lines' Suit Ends With $5 Million Judgement Against Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams

    After five years, the legal battle over the copyright of the Robin Thicke’s 2013 hit “Blurred Lines” has ended, with Marvin Gaye’s family being awarded a final judgment of nearly $5 million against the song’s primary writers, Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, according to CNN and other reports. The pair were accused of copyright infringement [...]

  • WME Veteran Ari Greenburg Promoted to

    WME Veteran Ari Greenburg Promoted to President of Talent Agency

    WME veteran Ari Greenburg, one of the original Endeavor staffers who helped build the talent agency that became an industry powerhouse, has been promoted to president. Greenburg will oversee all daily operations across WME and its offices in Beverly Hills, New York, Nashville, London and Sydney. The promotion recognizes the role that Greenburg has played [...]

  • Alison Wenham Steps Down as CEO

    Alison Wenham Steps Down as CEO of WIN

    After 12 years at the helm of the Worldwide Independent Network, a global trade organization for the independent music industry, Alison Wenham is stepping down as Chief Executive, it was announced today. Prior to joining WIN full time in 2016 Alison was CEO of The Association of Independent Music (AIM), which she started in 1999. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content