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SAG-AFTRA announced Thursday the launch of a new sexual harassment reporting platform as well as the first industry-wide accreditation for intimacy coordinator training programs and registry.
SAG-AFTRA’s Intimacy Coordinator training accreditation and registry programs aim to expand the number of experienced professionals to serve in this role nationwide. According to SAG-AFTRA, along with the process for review and vetting of candidates for the role of intimacy coordinator, the accreditation system will establish a standard to help potential registrants identify high-quality training programs. SAG-AFTRA will also sponsor an intimacy coordinator conference annually for registry and pre-registry participants to meet a continuing education requirement.
“Protecting the well-being, security and dignity of our members is the reason that SAG-AFTRA exists,” said SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris in a statement. “Last year, SAG-AFTRA took a huge step toward normalizing and encouraging the use of intimacy coordinators in productions large and small. These professionals have proven to be effective in changing the culture while safeguarding the safety and security of our members as they work.”
Carteris, who starred in the early seasons of the 1990s television series Beverly Hills, 90210, recounted during a press conference call on SAG-AFTRA’s new initiatives experiences of not having intimacy coordinators available early in her career and how “freeing” it was to have “an option of support available” during the reboot of the series.
Submissions for the accreditation of training programs begin May 1 and last through July 31. Submissions for applicants to the registry and pre-registry lists will begin Aug. 1 and run through Oct. 31.
“As the use of intimacy coordinators continues to rapidly grow, we believe that establishing these standards will help to safely expand the profession and provide support and security to actors as they practice their craft,” Amanda Blumenthal, founder of Intimacy Professionals Association, shared in a statement.
“The steps we are taking today are to amplify and unite the working professionals in the field of intimacy coordination,” Alicia Rodis, who serves as HBO’s in-house intimacy coordinator, also said in a statement. “We are proud to be working with SAG-AFTRA on continuing to set the standard of excellence for this rapidly expanding industry. The continued safety of performers on set is our number one priority.”
The reporting platform, called SAG-AFTRA Safe Place, allows members as well as anyone who has worked on a SAG-AFTRA production to report incidents of sexual harassment they personally experienced or witnessed. The platform is available as of Thursday through the SAG-AFTRA member mobile app and at sagaftrasafeplace.org.
It offers three different reporting options: submit a report anonymously; submit a report with contact information and request that SAG-AFTRA pursues action (such as file a complaint with the employer on the user’s behalf and keep the employer accountable to investigating the complaint; or submit a report with contact information and request the union not take action unless or until the user is ready.
Once users file a report, they will be able to communicate about their complaint with SAG-AFTRA’s Equity and Inclusion team, who are trained in trauma awareness, and will work with the user to determine the best course of action, and provide additional resources. The platform will have the ability to match and note names that appear in multiple reports. SAG-AFTRA Safe Place will also provide education for members on the forms that sexual harassment can take. It will also provide users with resources for self-care, referrals to legal assistance, and social services. Users can access guidance for outside reporting options at the federal and state level.
Regarding the development of SAG-AFTRA Safe Place, Carteris noted the union “conducted a conference overview of people’s needs we listened to their concerns. We beta tested survivors. We engaged with diverse cross sections of members to make sure their voices and needs of all their communities that we work with were cared for and addressed.”
“This is the latest development in our ongoing effort to eliminate sexual harassment in the entertainment industry through innovative technology improvements, strategic partnerships, raising awareness of these issues, and expanding contract and legislative protections,” said SAG-AFTRA executive director David White in a statement. “This effort reflects a long collaboration with the leaders and working professionals in the intimacy coordinator community. We could not be more pleased to add this contribution to the work being done by colleagues and allies across the industry to address this issue.”
The launch of SAG-AFTRA Safe Place comes three years after top Hollywood executives unveiled an anti-sexual harassment commission chaired by Anita Hill — the Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace.
Last September, the commission announced plans for a cross-industry anonymous reporting platform that would help identify abusers. This followed the commission releasing results from an industry survey that found 91 percent of respondents felt a need for such a platform.
White confirmed that SAG-AFTRA has been working directly with the Hill’s commission as it develops its own reporting platform, noting it has been supportive of the union’s efforts. “We looked at a dozen other platforms that purport to do something like this in different settings. We wanted to see whether or not we can take something off of the shelf and adapt to our environment,” White said of the inspiration for SAG-AFTRA Safe Place. He added that ultimately the union felt the best way for it to support and protect its members was to create a tool and process that could integrate with their existing database.
“In terms of integrating with the database and names and information, the safety and confidentiality of the information that members have when they are connected to the union because of the information that we have, and the dispersal of the information throughout the teams that are involved in any sort of intervention, [we thought] that was something better for us to build our own,” White added.
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