Bullying and harassment is more commonplace than you might think and can affect anyone regardless of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, disability, age, class or seniority.

As Chair of Directors UK, I'm proud of the campaigning work we do. Following the revelations of abuse across the film and TV industry at the end of last year, Directors UK, the professional association for British screen directors, has launched a bullying and harassment handbook for screen directors working in the film and television industry.  

Screen directors can be particularly vulnerable, typically working to a challenging schedule on a freelance basis and in highly charged environments where inappropriate behaviour may be overlooked or ignored.

Poor treatment and abusive behaviour are fundamentally connected to issues of power and control and the absence of mutual respect. In the interests of our members and industry colleagues, Directors UK is looking at how we can tackle these issues head-on and acknowledge that directors can be victims, witnesses and perpetrators of inappropriate behaviour.

The guidelines was produced following consultation with key industry bodies and aims to tackle workplace misconduct and help directors deal with scenarios of bullying and harassment, as a victim, witness or perpetrator. Whilst it’s obviously designed with our membership in mind - it’s a fantastic resource for anyone working in the film and TV industry to use and I hope it will be widely shared. 

Designed to be a ‘best practice’ guide for directors, the handbook provides legal definitions of ‘bullying’ and ‘harassment’, as well as practical advice and information to help prevent, identify and address negative behaviour if it does occur.     

As the creative lead on a production, directors play a vital role in creating a safe and supportive environment for cast and crew. However, as directors are predominantly freelancers, they often do not have access to HR resources and safeguards so the handbook aims to empower them by helping them understand their own behaviour and behaviour of others, as well as highlighting the various options available to them.

Andrew Chowns, Directors UK’s Chief Executive commented: “This guidance handbook for directors offers practical advice and support to help deal with abusive attitudes and behaviours within the industry. Everyone has the right to work in a safe professional environment, and it is essential that there is a shared understanding of what are respectful and inclusive working practices and valuable guidance on how to deal with abusive behaviour.”
BAFTA-winning director Susanna White, Vice Chair of DUK and Chair of the Film Committee said: “Now, more than ever, as the spotlight has been focused on poor or criminal behaviour within our industry, we must lead by example and ensure our own behaviour and attitudes are reflective and considerate, to encourage and inspire others within the industry to create a safe working environment for all.”

Directors UK also offers its members practical advice and support, and a resolution service if a complaint is made.