MCV/DEVELOP kicks off the New Year by tackling the thorny issue of sexual harassment, abuse and more. It’s an uncomfortable topic, but one that needs addressing, particularly when it comes to advice on what needs to be done to help prevent it from happening
If there was one ugly issue that raised its head last year – and one of the most uncomfortable subjects to address – it was arguably that of sexual harassment towards female staff and associates by male industry executives. From allegations of improper behaviour by male management towards junior staff, to stories of studio members laughingly watching pornography whilst female staff were present, to reports of abusive and controlling actions in inappropriate relationships, and sadly, more…
2019 was the year that #metoo became an issue for the games industry. The experiences of the women who stepped forward on Twitter during the summer of 2019 have been well documented, along with the responses from the industry at large. But what can be done by games companies to avoid these instances? Liz Prince, Business Manager at Amiqus and Founder of the G Into Gaming initiative offers her thoughts:
“As a woman in games personally, I found the statements from the young women who stepped forward last summer upsetting and shocking. The principles behind G Into Gaming are to support women in games, to help studios to create more inclusive and diverse workplaces – and to attract more women and young girls into games. The allegations of harassment, abuse of power, gaslighting and more painted the games industry as a toxic place for young women – when of course, and thankfully, these cases (like in movies, music and other industries) are in the minority.
But we must acknowledge that this is happening in our industry. From speaking to studios on a daily basis, we know that they want to be more inclusive, more diverse and more welcoming to women. But with those allegations coming to light a few months back, it’s clear that more work is needed. And we must aggressively address these issues. Employers must ensure that safeguarding practices are in place. Female focus groups, safe spaces, proper processes for employees reporting uncomfortable behaviour by peers and, of course, for those alleging abuse, are required. Revise your company handbooks on abuse, harassment, misconduct and grievance issues. Create an action plan for your company to follow in case of sexual harassment and abuse claims. And encourage employees – both men and women – to call it out; make sure they are comfortable in doing so. Finally, if you have a member of staff who has been accused – and found guilty of – behaving inappropriately, act on it. That means letting go of people – regardless of how ‘important’ they are to the company – for the good of your business, and your staff.
Most importantly, remember that you are responsible for the safety of your staff. For individuals who have suffered – or are currently suffering from any kind of inappropriate behaviour by senior staff, please speak out. You are under no obligation to speak out publicly, but do talk to a colleague, a line manager, a mentor, a friend.
There are some great organisations you can turn to, including the Times Up initiative, which was born out of the widespread abuse by powerful men within the wider entertainment industry.
At GIG we are here to talk to, too. You can speak to us anonymously, we will help you and we will support you.”