#MeToo: How the Harvey Weinstein case has changed the conversation around women in the workplace

  • Video report by ITV Arts Editor Nina Nannar.

That the case has changed the conversation around women in the workplace is undeniable.

The boundaries between what is acceptable and unacceptable contact between work colleagues are under the spotlight like never before.

As allegations against more and more men in the entertainment industries began to surface two years ago, the shockwaves went far and wide.

Many thousands of women took to the streets around the world to join the #MeToo movement, the Time's Up pressure group was launched and alleged victims sought legal redress.

A #MeToo rally in South Korea. Credit: AP

Historic incidents were publicised to indicate how deep rooted and previously ignored sexual harassment had been, the phrase 'casting couch' became all too real and disturbing.

The sexual harassment allegations that began in 2017 lifted the lid on what had been below the surface for so long, and that has led to concrete moves to change the working environment for so many women.

Time's Up, founded in Hollywood in 2018 and with a branch in the UK, can offer free advice lines for victims and give TV and film production companies practical guidance on making workplaces safe for ALL employees.

Consultation is currently underway on a new employment bill where there will potentially be a responsibility on all employers to deal with harassment issues, with policies in place so victims have someone to turn to.

Actor and activist Rose McGowan is one of the most prominent #MeToo figures. Credit: AP

The Weinstein fallout has undoubtedly contributed to a wider debate on gender pay equality in the film industry, on the lack of recognition for female directors, on the need to make film and TV sets more diverse so every group is supported.

The old studio system dating from Hollywood's golden age, with men in the power positions and making all the decisions, increasingly looks like an anachronism today.

Harvey Weinstein is escorted in handcuffs to a courtroom in July 2018. Credit: AP

The voice of women in film has never been so loud. Leading stars like Reece Witherspoon and Margot Robbie are making films through their own production companies, taking control of the stories themselves.

Even the filming of nude scenes is being re-examined. Intimacy coaches are increasingly being hired to make sure women - for it is still mainly women who are required to strip off - are protected on set, and that their workplace environment is dignified.

It is perhaps no coincidence that when we report on the Bafta, Brits and Oscar nominations, diversity is one of the first things we examine these days. Where are the women directors? Why are no female bands in the running for some music awards?

Natalie Portman's Oscars' dress was embroided with names of female Hollywood talent who were overlooked during nominations. Credit: AP

There is still a distance to go - many women undoubtedly did not come forward, while thousands did. But the atmosphere has changed, the film industry, and indeed many other workplaces, have had to change or face being called out.

Many behaviours have been outed as simply unacceptable. It is a pity it is only now that the abused and harassed can really use their voice.