Academy Sets ‘Standards of Conduct’ in Wake of Sexual Misconduct Scandals

Steve Pond
Academy Sets ‘Standards of Conduct’ in Wake of Sexual Misconduct Scandals

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has issued standards of conduct by which its members are expected to abide, one step in a plan to address the sexual misconduct scandals that have gripped Hollywood (and the country) in the wake of allegations against Harvey Weinstein.

“There is no place in the Academy for people who abuse their status, power or influence in a manner that violates recognized standards of decency,” reads part the two-paragraph statement. “The Academy is categorically opposed to any form of abuse, harassment or discrimination on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, disability, age, religion, or nationality.”

The statement goes on to say that members who violate the standards will be subject to disciplinary action, “including suspension or expulsion.”

But it’s unlikely that the Board will immediately sit down and consider the membership status of Kevin Spacey or Roman Polanski. An email to Academy members from CEO Dawn Hudson said that a task force headed by David Rubin will “finalize procedures for handling allegations of misconduct,” and that the new procedures would be sent to members in 2018.

The standards, which were addressed by the AMPAS Board of Governors during its meetings in November and December, followed the October 14 expulsion of Weinstein from the Academy. It is only one part of an effort that is expected to encompass other programs that will be announced in the future. Producer Kathleen Kennedy, a member of the board, has proposed a commission to address the problem and establish a zero-tolerance policy for the industry.

Also Read: Motion Picture Academy Expels Harvey Weinstein

The standards were sent to the members on Wednesday evening in a link contained in an email from Hudson. The body of the email:

Last night, our Board of Governors approved the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, a statement of values that we expect our members to uphold. Please read it here. [LINK IS AVAILABLE TO MEMBERS ONLY.]

On behalf of the Governors, I want to thank the specially formed task force, led by Governor and Academy Officer David Rubin, whose members dedicated many hours of research and discussion to drafting this document and evaluating future steps. Over the course of weeks, the task force consulted with professors of ethics, business, philosophy, and law from Georgetown, Harvard, Notre Dame, and Stanford, as well as experts in human resources and sexual harassment. We met with our counterparts at the Television Academy and BAFTA, and, for reference, we also reviewed the codes of conduct of other organizations, including AFI, Film Independent, and UCLA.

Much remains to be done. The task force will finalize procedures for handling allegations of misconduct, assuring that we can address them fairly and expeditiously. This process will ultimately guide the Board of Governors in assessing if certain allegations warrant action regarding membership.  Those procedures will be sent to you in the new year.

We are articulating these standards with the simple goal of fostering the kind of environment that enables and supports creativity, and furthers the Academy’s mission.  

The email linked to a statement which reads, in full:

Academy membership is a privilege offered to only a select few within the global community of filmmakers. In addition to achieving excellence in the field of motion picture arts and sciences, members must also behave ethically by upholding the Academy’s values of respect for human dignity, inclusion and a supportive environment that fosters creativity. The Academy asks that members embrace their responsibility to affirm these principles and act when these principles are violated. There is no place in the Academy for people who abuse their status, power or influence in a manner that violates recognized standards of decency. The Academy is categorically opposed to any form of abuse, harassment or discrimination on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, disability, age, religion, or nationality. The Board of Governors believes that these standards are essential to the Academy’s mission and reflective of our values.

If any member is found by the Board of Governors to have violated these standards or to have compromised the integrity of the Academy by their actions, the Board of Governors may take any disciplinary action permitted by the Academy’s Bylaws, including suspension or expulsion.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Ron Meyer, Tom Hanks, Jason Blum Named to Academy Museum's New Board of Trustees

John Oliver Points Out Hypocrisy of Academy Booting Harvey Weinstein (Video)

'Molly's Game' Director Aaron Sorkin on How Harvey Weinstein Made Film 'Surprisingly Relevant'