Why Hollywood Women Should Join With Matt Damon (Yes, Him)

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Matt Damon

"The male ally is the single most important person who is going to cause change," says one expert. "We can't castigate them."

More diverse leadership, the ability to anonymously report incidents and implementing training and awareness programs are on the industry’s radar to reduce sexual harassment at the workplace. But more is needed beyond Time’s Up activism to foment change. Like, the guys.

“The male ally is the single most important person who is going to cause change,” says Janine Yancey, CEO of Emtrain, which helps companies create healthier cultures. (Netflix and Dolby are clients.) “We can’t castigate them. So when a Matt Damon makes an off comment, you can’t beat him up. Don’t be confrontational because that doesn’t work.”

When a DP with several women reporting to him featured soft-porn screensavers on his computer, “lots of other department heads knew about it, but no one wanted to get involved,” says an industry source. “That has to not be the case.”

A nonconfrontational communications system to call out co-workers can help. Yancey uses a “workplace color spectrum” tool that she has shared with her 785 clients. “Green is ideal: respectful, positive, productive. Yellow means we’re not using the best communication strategies — it’s stressful, demotivating — we’re all impatient creatures. Orange means you’re being exclusive, making comments about people’s traits, race or gender — it’s disrespectful and demoralizing. Good people go orange all the time. Red is abusive, creating a hostile work environment — that person should not be in power.”

One Emtrain client, a New York City-based CEO, rates his teams by these colors in weekly companywide meetings. “It makes it impersonal and easier to talk,” says Yancey. “Sorry, so-and-so, but that’s a little orange. Then they can say, ‘OK, my bad.’”

A couple of green examples? Judd Apatow and showrunner Greg Daniels, who insiders say emphasize a respectful and supportive set. 

This story appears in the Feb. 28 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.