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Hollywood, Business Team Up to Combat Harassment, Advance Equality

FILE - Anita Hill speaks at a discussion about sexual harassment at United Talent Agency in Beverly Hills, California, Dec. 8, 2017. Hill, who was one of the first women to bring the issue of sexual harassment into American public discourse in the early 1990s, has been tapped to lead the new Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace.

Top entertainment and business executives have agreed to found and fund a Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace.

The new group was established at a meeting in Los Angeles convened by Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, Nike Foundation founder and co-chair Maria Eite, talent attorney Nina Shaw and venture capitalist Freada Kapor Klein. It was attended by the heads of nearly every major Hollywood studio.

The establishment of the new group follows the recent avalanche of allegations about sexual misconduct and inequality in the entertainment industry.

"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.

Anita Hill has been tapped to chair the newly formed group. She was one of the first people to introduce the public to the concept of sexual harassment when she testified in 1991 against Clarence Thomas at his Senate confirmation hearing for the Supreme Court.

"It is time to end the culture of silence," Hill said in a statement. "I've been at this work for 26 years. This moment presents us with an unprecedented opportunity to make real change."

Hill, a Brandeis law professor who has chaired the Human Rights Committee of the International Bar Association, said the commission will focus on issues ranging from "power disparity, equity and fairness, safety, sexual harassment guidelines, education and training, reporting and enforcement, ongoing research and data collection."

Accounts in the New York Times and the New Yorker covering the allegations from women about predatory sexual behavior on the part of film producer Harvey Weinstein seemed to have opened the door for others to follow suit with allegations of sexual misconduct leveled against a host of other media and entertainment figures that have included Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, Louis C.K., Russell Simmons, Kevin Spacey, Garrison Keilor and Brett Ratner. Not spared were political figures, including U.S. Senator Al Franken.

The commission said in a statement it will reconvene early next year to define its mission, scope and priorities.