BBC bullying survey (as featured in the recent File on Four programme). This is a survey that was promoted by Bectu in June 2021. Details of the results are below (raw data is the property of the BBC and can be requested from them Bectu has seen these results and summary is below).
Bectu conducted an extensive survey of workers in film and TV in preparation for a recent Radio 4 File on Four programme. Because of the obvious reporting biases (people who have experienced abuse being more likely to respond) the greatest value was in the individual testimony.
In doing the survey we promised confidentiality, so we can only ask readers to trust us when we say that a lot of the accounts were fairly hair-raising, and in some cases, they went beyond the severity of cases that Bectu officials periodically have to deal with in supporting members.
Bectu officials routinely report having represented members in very difficult situations. It is not uncommon for members to tell officials that they had to really force themselves to contact us. In many cases, members have said (paraphrasing)…
“My head says it won’t help or change anything but my heart says I can’t let them get away with it.”
This survey shows why the ‘head’ sometimes wins out and abuse goes unreported.
So, leaving aside the individual testimonies – some of which were featured in the File on Four programme, the headlines from the survey were as follows:
Respondents – 1416 in total:
- Broadly very evenly split in terms of gender (not far off 50/50)
- 80% “freelance” respondents – most of the remainder were ‘staff’ (a handful of respondents didn’t say)
- 73.5% (i.e. 1038) said yes when asked “Have you ever experienced bullying/ non-sexual harassment/ sexual abuse of any form in your current profession?
Of those 73.5%…
- 93% (966) had experienced bullying
- 29.5% (307) had suffered non-sexual harassment
- 27% (282) had suffered sexual abuse / harassment / assault. (282 respondents in total)
- Only 333 respondents reported their experience to anyone in authority
- Only 89 respondents reported any action being formally taken.
- Only 33 respondents said that they were satisfied with the action taken.
Of the 705 respondents who said that they hadn’t reported their experience to any authority, a lack of confidence that any action would be taken was given as the main reason for keeping quiet (73% of the people who answered this question) while concerns about losing the job/contract (57%), a fear of blacklisting (50%), and a fear that it would lead to further harassment or abuse (29%) also featured.
Specifics of sexual abuse/harassment/assault responses.
Of those 27% / 282 people who had specifically suffered sexual abuse / harassment / assault
- 44 said they had been assaulted (15.6%)
- 241 said they had been harassed (85.5%)
- 115 reported ‘groping’ (40.8%)
- 13 said they had been raped (4.6%)
- 67 said they had suffered other forms of sexual abuse/harassment/assault (23.75%)
Please note, these five bullet points refer to a subset of the respondents who completed the survey who also reported “sexual abuse/harassment/assault”.
Impact of this on workers
- 550 of the respondents told Bectu that their experience led them to consider leaving the industry should be alarming to all employers – even those who take more care about their crew than is the norm for this sector.
- 545 respondents believed that their experiences led to mental health problems and 174 said it resulted in them taking extended time off.
- 306 respondents linked their experiences to a subsequent loss of work or income.
These findings present the film and TV sector with a huge moral problem, and an obligation to act decisively. However, there has never been a better time for the industry to act – in its own interests – and to do so as soon as possible.
The film and TV industry face an unprecedented capacity problem. The contingent ‘freelance’ workforce is seriously under-invested in terms of training and skills and employers are struggling to find experienced crew. These findings showing people leaving the profession or losing many days of work should be taken seriously, from a practical point of view.
In the Eyes Half Shut report of 2018, Bectu has already shown that the culture of long-hours working has already led many people to leave the industry – and disproportionately, this is true of highly skilled women working in the sector.
The culture of long-hours working was also linked to the culture of bullying where members reported the features of their working life to be interdependent upon each other. Long hours working as a symptom of an industry that can bully workers into one-sided contracts, and long hours working fraying nerves and tempers leading to bullying.
Note: I’ve been compiling a list of bullying and harassment-related initiatives on this site – here. It will be updated periodically.