It’s been three years since the #MeToo movement widely exposed what people who work in the entertainment industry had known for decades — sexual harassment, abuse and assault were rampant.
Despite the strides made to hold perpetrators accountable, workplace bullying in the industry remains a problem. Moreover, women are twice as likely to be the victims of bullying than their male counterparts, and men are more than twice as likely to engage in bullying as women. This is particularly troubling because bullying is often a “gateway” step toward sexual harassment. Those are among the findings recently published by the Hollywood Commission chaired by Anita Hill.
In the survey of industry employees, bullying was defined as behavior involving everything from verbal abuse to physical aggression. The behavior, for the purposes of the survey, had to have come from a supervisor or someone with control over a person’s assignments, hours and workload. Younger women were more likely to report being bullied than older women. Both people with disabilities and non-union workers were twice as likely to say that they’d experienced bullying as those who weren’t.
Professor Hill said that “belittling, vulgar and demeaning language and behavior is a gateway to sexual harassment and other abusive conduct.” She noted that “workers understand the harm that an environment rife with humiliating insults, sarcasm, swearing and throwing objects in anger causes.”
Interestingly, when asked whether they’d seen any lessening of bullying in the workplace, respondents’ answers reflected their age and gender. Overall, about two-thirds said they’ve seen progress in creating a less hostile, more respectful workplace. However, just 55% of women under 39 said things were getting better, while 80% of men older than 65 reported moderate or significant progress.
While bullying can be more difficult to document and prove than sexual harassment, as one survey respondent said, bullying is “just an abuse of power in a different form.” It can and often does go hand-in-hand with sexual harassment and discriminatory behavior. If you haven’t been able to put an end to workplace bullying that’s impacting your life, your health and/or your ability to do your job, it may be wise to find out what your legal options are.