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Debra Messing Shares Why Time’s Up for Workplace Inequality

Photo: Courtesy of Debra Messing

The award-winning actress explains why she’s supporting the Hollywood’s gender equality movement and offers hope for equity in every industry.

Given the stories emerging about sexual harassment in the entertainment industry, and with great thanks to movements like Time’s Up, there’s now a visible platform for more women to come forward about sexual harassment in the workplace. How do you think men in any industry should be using their platform, and how should they be holding themselves accountable to support women within this movement?

I believe sexual harassment stems from a systemic imbalance of power within every industry. I would ask male allies to insist on equal pay for equal work. I would also call on male allies in positions of power to insist on a 50/50 ratio, men to women, as heads of studios, directors, writers, actresses, producers and crew members, so every workplace can reflect the world around us. I would also ask that within the 50 percent of women, 30 percent be women of color, LGBT and the differently abled, who are sorely underrepresented.

This year’s Golden Globes was an incredible demonstration of solidarity and support for the Time’s Up movement. What was the feeling like in the room that night, with so many women standing in solidarity with one another? What kind of impact do you believe the Golden Globes had on the nation, and what do you think it did and can do moving forward for women (and men) working in any — and every — industry?

I’ve been fortunate enough to have been invited into that room 10 times, and I can honestly say that this past Golden Globes was unlike anything I’d ever experienced anywhere, frankly. It was incredibly emotional, charged with purpose. The sister solidarity was electric. I hope that everyone watching from around the world, from every industry, saw that the United States was finally serious about equal rights for women and a woman’s right to work and thrive in safe environments. I believe that evening was not just a moment. This is a movement. And we are all just getting started.  

Looking forward, what is your hope for the Time’s Up movement, and how else can all workers everywhere do their part to change the way our society addresses and handles sexual harassment and abuse?

I hope that the Time’s Up movement, in concert with all the other organizations that have been working so hard for so long, will be able to come up with a code of conduct that can be adopted and used by every union for every industry, so that no matter where a woman goes, there is no doubt that she will be treated with respect, dignity and autonomy, and if she is not, that there will be ramifications. There must be accountability. 

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