Women's Empowerment Group 'Time's Up' Launches Sexual Harassment Legal Defense Fund

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Yesterday, over 300 women from across the entertainment community came together to announce the formal formation of "Time's Up," an empowerment group dedicated to advocating for and protecting women in the workplace across industries. 

The group have launched a Legal Defense Fund and already raised more than $13 million that will go toward legal fees and assistance for individuals filing claims of sexual assault and harassment in the workplace. 

“Earning a living should not come at the cost of anyone’s safety, dignity or morale,” said Shonda Rhimes in Deadline's report. “Every person should get to work in an environment free from abuse, assault and discrimination. It’s well past time to change the culture of the environment where most of us spend the majority of our day — the work place. 51% of our population is female, over 30% of our population is of color. Those are important, vital, economically powerfully voices that need to be heard at every level. Time’s Up is working to make sure the people walking the corridors of power within the workplace and in politics truly reflect the full mix of America – the real America that looks like and includes all of us.  Look, this isn’t going to be easy but it is right.  And fighting for what is right can seem hard.  But letting what is wrong become normal is not easier — it is just more shameful.”

Time's Up was spearheaded by four top female CAA agents—Maha Dakhil, Michelle Kydd Lee, Hylda Queally and Christy Haubegger—and quickly joined forces with other top female industry executives. Actresses including Reese Witherspoon, Sarah Jessica Parker, Natalie Portman, Rashida Jones, Kerry Washington, Lena Waithe, America Ferrera, Eva Longoria, Ashley Judd; creatives Shonda Rhimes, Melina Matsoukus, Jill Soloway; lawyers Nina Shaw, Tina Tchen, Anita Hill have all lent their support to the group. 

In December, the Time's Up community formed the Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace, a concept proposed by LucasFilm president Kathleen Kennedy to provide industry standards and protections against systemic harassment. The Commission is chaired by Anita Hill, who is an original whistleblower against sexual predators, testitfying against Clarence Thomas in his 1991 Senate confirmation hearing.

“I’m proud to be leading this newly-formed Commission on a long overdue journey to adopt best practices and to create institutional change that fosters a culture of respect and human dignity throughout the industry,” Hill said, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “We will be focusing on issues ranging from power disparity, equity and fairness, safety, sexual harassment guidelines, education and training, reporting and enforcement, ongoing research and data collection. It is time to end the culture of silence. I’ve been at this work for 26 years. This moment presents us with an unprecedented opportunity to make real change.”

In addition to the Commission and the Legal Defense Fund, Time's Up is spearheading an initiative for legislation penalizing companies with histories of harassment gone untreated, as well as a mission toward gender parity in leadership roles across fields. They've also requested women wear black to the Golden Globes to raise awareness about the cause and issues. More information here.

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