Protest Challenges Pay Discrimination Behind the Lens
Since the start of the “Times Up” and “Me Too” movements, the spotlight has remained on the gender-based wage disparities existing between female and male actors that work on the same cinematic productions, yet receive unequal pay. However, many in Hollywood feel that women who work behind the scenes in film production or as part of the “below the line” crew, such as in script production, make-up and costume creation, pre- or post-production film editing, and graphics and art design, should not be overlooked.
Reel Equity, a group of film industry professionals and their allies, has petitioned the heads of various production companies and studios to address wage disparities and pay discrimination in film and television production. Several high-profile Hollywood media moguls, as well as such affinity groups as Women in Film, the ACLU of Southern California, the National Women’s Law Center, Equal Rights Advocates, and Women in Media, as well as other organizations, have already endorsed the petition.
The group’s petition was based on a recent study commissioned by Working IDEAL, an organization advising companies on diversity, inclusion, and equity counseling and initiatives. Working IDEAL conducted an in-depth assessment of the compensation structure for four majority female positions involved in film and television production. The study concluded that, despite the breadth of California’s Fair Pay Act (which took effect in January 2017 and is arguably one of the most expansive pay equity measures in the United States), women in several of these crafts “are [still] paid hundreds or even thousands of dollars per week less than counterparts in comparable male-dominated crafts.” Many women interviewed for the study also reported concerns of harassment and stereotyping affecting their compensation.
As pay discrimination issues continue to gain traction in various industries, employers should evaluate their obligations under their respective pay equity measures and ensure compliance with state, local, and federal laws. Additionally, employers may consider conducting a thorough review of their compensation structures to identify and address any potential disparities.