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Wednesday, 14 October 2015

A Crappy Equality and Diversity Statement

So I wrote this about sexual harassment one day last week for my sins. The most important part for me is setting something up that recognises the problem exists and to create structures that can address problems when they happen.

I've had a busy day today.  I've been on a train. I've given a lecture and run a couple of seminars with a really lovely Documentary Photography class at the University of South Wales in Cardiff. I've been in a supermarket. I've been in a swimming pool and I'm about to go to a kung fu class.

In all of those situations, if a student or an employee or a customer was systematically harassed they would have somebody to complain to, and most would not think twice about doing it.

In the wider world of photography events, people do not have anybody to complain to. People do think twice about complaining. That's why they don't complain.

It's not because they don't have 'respect for themself' as somebody told me. It's because there is no structure for  it to happen in. It's a problem that is not recognised.

In other words, according to my questionable logic, trains, supermarkets, kung fu classes, swimming pools and universities are all infinitely more open than photography! And more truthful, and more responsible, and more aware of the world.

Which sounds all wrong to me! Walmart is more right-on than photography!? Is that what I'm saying?

In my post I suggested having some basic code of contact.

And so I knocked something up with Alex at my local cultural photography organisation and this is what we, at  IC Visual Labs in Bristol put up.

ICVL Equality principles

ICVL believes in having an organisation:
1. Where equality and diversity are central principles
We will work:
2. To prevent discrimination, harassment and victimisation happening during ICVL events, or in communications, meetings or discussions relating to ICVL events (including workshops, lectures and meetings)
We will:
3. Provide access to complaint should discrimination, harassment or victimisation occur. If you have been experienced any of the issues mentioned above during any of our activities, please contact Maider Dominguez (ICVL Equality and Diversity Officer) at maideretete@gmail.com
4. Prioritise any complaints during ICVL meetings and share our findings with other organisations our findings should the need arise.

It's institutional, it's annoying, it's bureaucratic, it's a bit crap. But it doesn't cost anything, it doesn't take any time, and it sends a very simple message.

If you're running any kind of organisation in which you have portfolio reviews or workshops, why wouldn't you have something like this in place?

And ultimately these things do make a difference. Because if somebody does have a problem with a workshop or a portfolio review that takes place at IC Visual Labs, there is somebody you can complain to.

It's not as simple as that of course. But at the same time it is.

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