November 14, 2019

From the Chairman

Frank Scherma, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

“This is how we’ve always done it.”

We often hear these words in business, but don’t always realize that it is an alarm too often ignored. Why? Because maintaining the status quo is not always the right choice.

When a timeworn practice persists — due to a lack of originality, resistance to change or aversion to risk — the result is a stifling of innovation, one of the most consistent markers of success. For individuals, organizations and industries to realize their potential, they must adapt and evolve.

And challenges, even occasional failures, are not only necessary but valuable because they provide learning opportunities. In broad strokes: recognize problems, identify their causes, implement a better process for the future. Rinse, repeat.

Consider the television industry, which has faced one disruption after another over the past eight decades. It has not only survived but thrived — by embracing change when conditions call for it. For the past year-and-a-half, we have been grappling with a formidable disruption, Covid-19. While we have not yet returned to normal, production levels continue to increase.

Meanwhile, innovation spurred by the pandemic — in health and safety standards, labor practices, storytelling techniques and more — has better prepared us for whatever lies ahead.

Unfortunately, the culture of keeping things as they are is not limited to balance sheets. In some instances, there is a troubling human cost. This has been seen in recent news reports alleging years of abusive behavior by individuals in positions of power in the entertainment industry toward colleagues and staff.

Of course, anti-bullying policies and legislation protecting children have been in place for years, and rightly so. Such conduct toward young people is unacceptable, but it is no less tolerable among adults.

Fortunately, change is happening. In April, the Producers Guild of America announced a new task force dedicated to rooting out workplace harassment in the entertainment industry.

The PGA will expand its Independent Production Safety Initiative to include anti-bullying training intended to reduce workplace aggression. SAG–AFTRA recently expanded workplace harassment resources for its members as well. The Television Academy applauds these actions, as well as other initiatives aimed at combatting bullying and harassment.

We all deserve a workplace based on dignity and respect, and anyone who is mistreated has the right to tell their story — and should be heard.

With new structures coming into place to confront abusive workplace behavior, let’s hope that “This is how we’ve always done it” has had its day..

Frank Scherma

Chairman and CEO, Television Academy

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