‘Fighting exploitation’ | BBC comics tackle harassment with own 'HR service'

BBC comics tackle harassment with own 'HR service'

Two comedians have promised to create their own ‘HR service’ for others in their industry facing sexual harassment in the workplace.

Comics Kiri Pritchard-McLean, who has appeared on BBC's Have I Got News for You and Channel 4's 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, and Nina Gilligan, who has appeared on various BBC radio channels, have spoken out sharing that they wish to tackle sexual harassment within the comedy industry, reported the BBC.

The move comes after a report by Welsh Women's Aid revealed that harassment ‘grey areas’ went unchallenged, with Pritchard-McLean stating that she also wishes to support the charity’s campaign.

Get Off, the HR service that both Pritchard-McLean and Gilligan are setting up, encourages comedy venues to pay into to provide protection for workers and venues.

Pritchard-McLean added that there were “so many horrifying, sad cases,” drawing on her experience as she commented on a scenario where a male promoter booked gigs for women and at the last moment explained that it would involve sharing a room with him.

Commenting on this she explained: “There was one promoter who gave women a series of gigs, then started sending them very sexual text messages. When they complained their gigs were taken out of the diary and they're blacklisted and never booked again.”

She went on to share that “comedy is an industry of individuals operating in a very tough gig economy, which is why it's so prone to exploitation”.

‘Inequality in the workplace’

While the pandemic may have led to fewer reports of physical touching as the vast majority of employees work from home, a study by Rights of Women found that online sexual harassment has increased.

It found that almost half of women experiencing sexual harassment, reported experiencing the harassment remotely. In addition, 42% of women experiencing sexual harassment at work have experienced some to all of the harassment online.

Read more from us

Charlotte Archibold from Welsh Women's Aid, stated that sexual harassment needs to be taken seriously, otherwise it will “continue to be a huge cause of inequality in the workplace”.

“For far too long our society hasn't taken sexual harassment seriously and the reality is the impacts of it are far reaching and devastating,” Archibold continued.

What can HR do?

According to Acas, sex is one of the protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010. Plus, it stated that “harassment includes bullying because of certain 'protected characteristics' and is against the law”. “The law also protects employees and workers against sexual harassment,” Acas said.

Therefore, employees facing sexual harassment should speak to HR to share their grievances. In addition, HR leaders should support staff facing harassment and promote an open and honest culture to encourage any member of staff to come forwards.

You are currently previewing this article.

This is the last preview available to you for 30 days.

To access more news, features, columns and opinions every day, create a free myGrapevine account.