In the reckoning Hollywood faces to better police sexual misconduct in its ranks, a panel of industry leaders on Wednesday proposed wide-ranging solutions to improve the work climate in the entertainment industry.
“It’s a moment to seize now,” said Dawn Hudson, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. “We all have to be vigorous and deliberative in our discussion about this, in our actions.”
The discussion comes as the industry grapples with the fallout after a litany of powerful men have been toppled following sexual harassment and assault allegations. Joining Harvey Weinstein, the disgraced studio mogul, are former Amazon Studios head Roy Price, director James Toback, Brett Ratner, Kevin Spacey, journalist Mark Halperin, and others.
“Men just have to support women on this,” said panelist and director, Paul Feig. “They have to call out other men on this.”
Feig and other panelists repeatedly said that men have to become active in not only denouncing sexual harassment, but policing it among themselves. “It’s a call to arms for men to stand up.”
The panel at Variety‘s Inclusion Summit also included producer Effie Brown, musician Sheila E., and actress Connie Nielsen in a discussion moderated by co-editor-in-chief Claudia Eller.
Nielsen, who recently spoke out about her own harrowing experience with Weinstein, challenged industry leaders, particularly those in high-ranking positions, to tackle the issue head on.
“I really think it’s up to every single leader, every single man to own this conversation as a citizen,” Nielsen said.
Among the solutions proposed was the establishment of a confidential hotline where individuals could report instances of harassment. The Academy is debating a code of conduct that would make explicitly clear how the organization would handle such complaints going forward. It has already expelled Weinstein and part of the debate centers on what type of behavior would merit expulsion, and also how far-reaching the policing goes, Hudson said.
Brown offered a simple solution for combating sexual harassment: “Hire women,” she said bluntly. “Hire qualified women, and then those women foster a culture of ‘this is acceptable and this is not.'”
But sexism and misogyny are not the only problems needing eradication, Brown said. Racism, too merits attention. “Let’s turn the corner and then talk about racism,” she said.
Sheila E., who in an autobiography revealed she had been the victim of childhood sexual abuse, encouraged others who have suffered abuse to speak out, saying that the shame and guilt often experienced by survivors can fester. “If you’ve been hurt… just share that,” she said, noting that it’s the first step toward healing.