Anita Hill will chair the newly-formed Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace. According to Variety, a group of top Hollywood executives were moved to form the commission after a number of rape and sexual abuse scandals.
The commission made the announcement after a meeting led by Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy with Nike Foundation founder and co-chair Maria Eitel, Nina Shaw and venture captialist Freada Kapor Klein.
“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 in a statement. "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 1991, Hill accused then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. Hill – an attorney and law professor at Brandeis University – testified against Thomas during his Senate confirmation hearing where she claimed Thomas asked her out numerous times and subjected her to many conversations about sexual matters during her employment. Ultimately, Thomas was approved for the Supreme Court. In a recent interview with Teen Vogue, former Vice President Joe Biden – who has been criticized for how he handled the Thomas confirmation hearing – said he owed Hill an apology.
“I insisted the next election — I campaigned for two women Senators on the condition that if they won they would come on the Judiciary Committee, so there would never be again all men making a judgement on this,” Biden said. “And my one regret is that I wasn’t able to tone down the attacks on her by some of my Republican friends. I mean, they really went after her. As much as I tried to intervene, I did not have the power to gavel them out of order. I tried to be like a judge and only allow a question that would be relevant to ask.”
Deadline reports that the Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace hasn't adopted a formal mission statement yet, the group plans to meet in early 2018 to define its mission, scope and priorities. The group hopes to lead the entertainment industry toward safer, fairer and more equitable and accountable workplaces, particularly for women and marginalized people.
“The Commission will not seek just one solution, but a comprehensive strategy to address the complex and inter-related causes of the problems of parity and power,” Kennedy said in a statement. “The fact that so many industry leaders – across film, television, music, digital, unions, agencies, ATA, AMPAS, television academy and guilds – came together, in one room, to explore solutions, speaks to a new era.”
Hill currently sits on the boards of directors for the National Women’s Law Center and the Boston Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, and has also chaired the Human Rights Committee of the International Bar Association.