#timeTo aims to stamp out sexual harassment in adland

12 Mar 2018  |  David Pidgeon 
#timeTo aims to stamp out sexual harassment in adland

The advertising industry has today launched an initiative to address the problem of sexual harassment within the sector.

#timeTo, which builds on the momentum of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, has been set up by the Advertising Association, NABS and WACL to "stamp out" sexual harassment in the workplace for all sexualities and genders.

Other industry bodies and companies will be invited to join, with ISBA and the IPA already pledging support.

Described by the organisers as a "forward-looking, positive initiative," it is designed to deliver a culture-wide change, with additional, individual level support and advice to be provided by NABS, the employee support organisation.

To kick-start the initiative, timeTo will conduct an industry-wide study, led by Karen Fraser at advertising’s think tank, Credos. The aim is to establish the current level of sexual harassment across the industry and to provide data for future tracking of change.

timeTo will then produce a best-practice 'Code of Behaviour' for all companies to implement as a minimum.

Tess Alps, chair of Thinkbox, helped organise the initiative and was witness to its inception following a 2017 WACL event on the issue of sexual harassment. She told Mediatel: "Last year we got to hear some very upsetting testimony from younger women about sexual harassment, which shows this is not a generational thing.

"It's also not just about women either; men, too, are being harassed. But now it's time to do all we bloody-well can to make it stop."

Meanwhile, Stephen Woodford, CEO, Advertising Association said the industry, like many others in the UK and around the world, is going through a "critical reset" in terms of behaviour change.

"The Advertising Association exists to promote the role, rights and responsibilities of advertising and timeTo is about being clear about the behaviour standard expected of all people who work in advertising," he said. "This must happen to ensure our industry, which reflects and shapes the world around us, continues to be an economic and social force for good in the years ahead.”

Kerry Glazer, president of WACL and CEO of the AAR, said: “This initiative is not about naming and shaming; it’s about making sure that everyone in the industry is aware that any unwanted conduct of a sexual nature that makes a person - male or female - feel uncomfortable, offended, intimidated, or degraded is entirely unacceptable. No excuses.”

Women working at different levels across the sector have welcomed the news.

“There is no place in any walk of life where unwelcome attention should be tolerated," said Jo Tomlin, director of communications, Magnetic. "No one should feel sexually intimidated or bullied full stop. The media industry can sometimes feel like a members’ club in which certain behaviour is overlooked or accepted.

"It’s important that every organisation creates a culture where this is not tolerated and in which those affected can speak up and feel listened to.”

Meanwhile, Daisy Pledge, founder of start-up Surreal Studios, said: "While it's a shame an initiative is even needed to correct something as abhorrent as sexual harassment, those of us who have experienced it and even those who have not must realise the importance of such a move.

"Everyone should be able to feel safe and welcome in their place of work."

Another, anonymous female, who has worked in the industry for six years, joining straight from University, said: "Although I've never been harassed myself, I've seen it happen to others on a number of occasions. I really hope this initiative can deliver change. The industry needs it."

If you or someone you know needs someone to talk to, contact NABS who can offer confidential advice and support on 0800 707 6607 or support@nabs.org.uk


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