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Sexual Harassment: SoA and The Bookseller calling for industry-wide cooperation

Article by Vanessa Fox O'Loughlin © 16 November 2017.
Posted in Guest Blogs ().

In the wake of The Bookseller’s findings from their industry survey into sexual harassment, the Society of Authors has joined trade magazine’s call for the sector to work together.

On Friday 10 November, The Bookseller published the findings of its survey into sexual harassment in the publishing industry.

The SoA now joins their call for all sections of publishing to work together to find constructive solutions. As Publishers Association CEO Stephen Lotinga said on Monday: ‘Any single example of harassment is completely unacceptable, and we have to work towards a professional environment where no person is made to feel uncomfortable in the workplace.’

David Donachie, chair of the Society of Authors Management Committee said:

‘We offer our complete support for The Bookseller’s work to expose the issue of harassment in publishing through their survey. We join them in calling for industry-wide cooperation to ensure that everyone in the industries of which our members are a part – publishing, broadcasting, media and beyond – is better protected. We are currently discussing how best to contribute to this effort.’

CEO Nicola Solomon said in a statement:

‘Clearly it is abhorrent for anyone in a position of power – whether they’re an author, publisher, agent or whoever – to use their position to compromise those around them, on any level.

‘As Benedicte Page wrote in The Bookseller last Friday, ‘we need a more open and public dialogue’. We have already been in touch with the Publishers Association and Association of Authors’ Agents to discuss next steps on drawing up book industry guidelines. Obviously, our members work in a wide range of fields, so we’ll also contact organisations in other industries – for instance with BBC and PACT in relation to our members working in media – and will consider what steps might be taken in the less corporate arenas where authors work, for instance festivals and performance poetry.’

In an article published on the SoA website on Wednesday, screenwriter and chair of the SoA’s Broadcasting Group committee Elizabeth-Anne Wheal wrote:

‘… what should we, as authors, be doing about all this? Calling for existing guidelines and codes of practice to be strengthened and clear reporting processes established, that’s certain. Demanding that the creative industries as a whole work much harder and more closely together to ensure that everyone working in them has protection, all of the time, not just some people, some of the time – absolutely. But I think we could be using our creativity and skills to dig in deeper here too.

‘Personally, I don’t believe that men abuse women because it is in their nature. I think they abuse because, in some subdural social sense, and despite all the gains that feminism has made, they still have permission to do so. This is an unpleasant truth – but my instinct is that many unpleasant truths will need to be written about, spoken, and heard, before we can say we’re making any real progress.’

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Writing.ie has been developed and is run by Vanessa Fox O'Loughlin who founded The Inkwell Group publishing consultancy and is Ireland's leading literary scout. Vanessa is represented by literary agent Simon Trewin and writes crime as Sam Blake. LITTLE BONES will be published by Bonnier's Twenty7 imprint in May 2016. Vanessa is the Chair of Irish PEN and the Irish and Eurozone Adviser to the international organisation The Alliance of Independent Authors.