KEY TAKE OUTS
We need to start talking. Both Sue Higgs, Executive Creative Director and Melody Sylvester, Head of Film at ENGINE, expound the importance of speaking up and out both about their own experiences but also on behalf of those who might not yet feel empowered to do so. “We need to speak honestly and openly and truthfully about some of the systemic behaviours have underpinned our industry for years,” Higgs explains, adding that, “if we don’t start talking, we’re not going to change anything.”
Lead by example. After many years in the industry, Higgs and Sylvester point out that it is beholden on people like them to lead by example. To set the tone in companies, on sets and Zoom calls, to lift up those around them and dismantle toxic cultures from the top down. “I’m sick of talking about [toxic behaviour], sick of keeping a lid on it. If we can talk about it, it may just help other people,” Sylvester says.
Boundaries are vital to avoid burnout. “Someone once said, you work nine to idea,” says Higgs. But, she adds, “why should you burn yourself out for profit? As a human being and a person, you shouldn’t be expected to have your adrenal system on fire to do your job.” As digital presenteeism only worsens for many across the industry, the pair want to see internal cultures shifting to reduce the pressure felt by so many. It’s essential that managers don’t foster a culture of presenteeism within their team and instead, Sylvester adds, “show a level of respect.”
Find your tribe. Sylvester says that for the first time this year she realised she needed an internal network around her. So, she decided to create one. She advises others to do the same, to seek out a community around them, even if that starts with just reaching out to one person; “chances are that person can connect you with another person or two people,” she adds.
Remember we are all human. “People just want human connection and they just want to know that you care,” Sylvester says. Check in with one another, listen to one another and ultimately encourage a culture of openness and honesty. Because that is how the toxic cultures of old will be dismantled, making way for a more inclusive, representative and kinder industry.
To read a full write up of the event, visit the dedicated BITE page, It is time to say NO to toxic behaviour