Dear Equity member,
Over the last couple of weeks, Equity has watched as allegations of sexual harassment and assault rocked the film and television industry, both in the United States and at home. Many courageous women and men have come forward to name their abusers. We applaud their courage for doing so and recognize how difficult it is to speak out publicly.

The live performance sector is not exempt from this kind of behaviour.

In early 2015, Equity’s national Council undertook a survey of the membership asking about experiences of harassment and bullying in the workplace. While the results were not surprising, they were nevertheless shocking. Nearly 50% of respondents reported being on the receiving end of inappropriate behaviour and nearly 50% reported being a witness. Men and women equally reported bullying as the most prevalent form of workplace harassment but twice as many women than men reported being sexually harassed.

The results motivated Council to undertake an immediate review of Equity’s bylaws, policies and procedures. Members that had experienced harassment in the workplace were consulted throughout the review to see if they felt the proposed changes would have made things easier for them. A more understandable and accessible reporting process resulted from this work.

The Not In OUR Space! campaign was launched as a proactive initiative to change industry culture. Equity and its PACT colleagues partnered to get this message and materials out to CTA and ITA theatres and members across the country. Materials are now also being sent to opera and dance companies.

Not In OUR Space! support materials, including what to do if something has happened to you, are available for download and can be found in the Summer 2017 issue of EQ magazine. While no campaign is an immediate fix, Not In OUR Space! is an important first step to eliminating workplace harassment. Since being launched, we have already received a slight increase in calls.

It is important for members to report inappropriate behaviour to a theatre/engager and/or to Equity. The theatre/engager bears the legal responsibility for ensuring a safe and respectful workspace. But it is even more important for us all to work together to stop this pernicious behaviour before it starts - to send a message to harassers and bullies that they can no longer behave without consequence. Looking out for each other, speaking up for each other and calling out bad behaviour in our workspaces will begin to effect the change we seek.

We encourage you to email or call us if you have an issue you would like to discuss or for more information about the campaign. Equity has several trained staff in both the National and Western offices, known as Respectful Workspace Advisors (RWAs), to assist you in deciding how to approach your individual situation.

Together, we must strive to change our culture so that we can create our work in safe and respectful workspaces.

In Solidarity,
Arden R. Ryshpan
Executive Director
Equity is committed to the pursuit of respectful workspaces and support for those who have experienced or witnessed toxic behaviours. We will not tolerate nor condone behaviour that is meant to undermine the dignity or self-esteem of an individual, or which creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment. Artists and engagers must speak out against harassment and stand together in addressing problems when they arise.