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Creating a Harassment Policy

Did you know that as an independent producer or independent theatre company, you are required by law to have a Harassment Policy and a Health and Safety Policy?

What is a Harassment Policy?

A Harassment Policy is a written policy specifically stating that harassment will not be tolerated at work.

What is a Health and Safety Policy?

A health and safety policy is a written statement by an employer stating the company's commitment for the protection of the health and safety of employees and to the public. It is an endorsed commitment by management to its employees regarding their health and safety.

The Ontario Arts Council requires that receipents of operating grant funds have policies and procedures in place to ensure a work environment where all workers are treated with respect and dignity and where workplace sexual violence and harassment are not tolerated (see here).

The Canada Council for the Arts requires that grant recipients commit to fostering a workplace free from discrimination, harassment and sexual misconduct. Failure to respect this commitment could result in the Council initiating a process to review and potentially reverse a grant decision.

By-Laws vs. Policy vs. Procedure: What’s the Difference?

By-Laws:

  • Are required for companies that are registered as charitable not for profit organizations
  • Are created and changed by the Board of Directors
  • Don’t generally touch on workplace safety
  • For that reason, by-laws are not the best place to include harassment or workplace safety

Workplace Policy:

  • Are required for any person that employs others or creates a workplace
  • Must be approved by a group (i.e. Board of Directors or staff)
  • Once a policy is set, you cannot change policies that are about employees without their approval
  • Because it is difficult to change a policy once it has been set, your policies should be universal and broad. It is best to keep policy as simple as possible
  • Policies should not live on a website. Your policy must live where it cannot be changed without the knowledge and consent of your employees (e.g. a PDF online, an appendix in your contracts, or hard copy in the green room).

Procedure:

  • A guide for the conflict and resolution process
  • How people working within the policy or culture imagine it being enforced (your response to the harassment policy)
  • Procedures are more flexible, can be changed without needing approval from Board or staff.

Procedure Principles to Consider:

1. Accountability

  • Ask yourself: “Who is (name) accountable to? Where can someone who has an issue with (name) go to?”
  • How will your company cope with reprisal?
  • Do you need to engage someone outside of your company? What is an affordable and reasonable option? (i.e. mediator, community member, ombudsman)


2. Process

  • When do you discuss your harassment policy with the people you are engaging with? How often?
  • How does your ethical process match and support the creative process?
  • When the issue does arise, what happens?
  • What can be put in place before shit hits the fan?
  • What are the budget requirements for when an issue arises?


3. Transparency

  • How are you planning on disseminating your policies? To whom?
  • How public will you be when an issue arises?
  • How public will you be with how you respond to the issue?


4. Consequences

  • What are the consequences when things go wrong?
  • Who decides what the consequences are?
  • Are these predetermined or on a case-by-case basis?
  • Is that ethical?
  • Is it your responsibility to the community to share what happened?

Where do you start?

Here are some resources for building your own HR Policy:
The Ontario Human Rights Code
Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act
Canadian Human Rights Commission Anti-Harassment Policy Template
Ontario Human Rights Commission Sample of Human Rights Policies
WorkInCulture HR Guide
Workers Safety Insurance Board Ontario

Examples of Policies and Codes of Conduct

Below are some examples of policies and codes of conduct from theatres and artist collectives across Canada. Got Your Back Canada has also put together a more extensive list of theatres and training institutions who have shared their harrassment policies which you can find here

CAEA Not In Our Space! Campaign (website)
CAEA Not In Our Space Campaign (PDF Download)
CADA PSD on Discrimination & Personal Harassment
Canadian Creative Industries Code of Conduct
Bad Dog Theatre Company Harrassment and Discrimination Policy
Bad Dog Theatre Company - Anonymous Reporting
Ghost River Theatre Code of Conduct
Toronto Fringe Anti-Harrassment and Anti-Discrimination Policy
We Have Voice Collective Code of Conduct

Legal Support

Looking for legal support or mediation services? Here are a few resources for residents of Toronto and Ontario:




This page was last updated on June 26 2018