The Lamplighter Coalition is a newly introduced program of Women In Lighting + Design (WILD) that is poised to address issues of safety at industry events.
TW: sexual harassment
From academia and scientific associations to the legal profession and event planner organizations, sexual harassment at business events is identified as an issue that must be addressed head-on through codes of conduct, trainings and resources.
- In a survey of people in scientific fields – 60% reported experiencing harassment at a meeting.
- In a survey of professionals in the event planning industry 56% of women and 31 % of men said that they had been sexually harassed at a conference.
People in the lighting industry know anecdotally or from first-hand experience that the problem exists at our events too.
Elizabeth Williams, a member of WILD Detroit, President of the Illuminating Engineering Society Detroit Section, and a member of the IES Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Respect (DEIR) Committee had reason to believe that sexual harassment at lighting industry events was impacting participation and attendance. In her volunteer work for various organizations, she reviewed anonymous survey results indicating sexual harassment as a reason why some people avoid industry events.
As a working group of WILD, Elizabeth and a team of volunteers decided to take on the issue and create the Lamplighter Coalition. The name has layered meeting for the lighting industry, According to the website Intriguing History, lamplighters were responsible for igniting and extinguishing the oil and then gas lanterns that lit the streets of London…Lamplighters were considered trustworthy and dependable, akin to town watchmen. Like the lamplighters of past centuries, this group intends to spread light (and information) that makes our community safer for everyone.
Since announcing the coalition, Williams reports that she has received overwhelmingly positive feedback, and people have reached out to share anecdotes of related personal experiences.
The coalition has two initiatives underway, the BE AWARE BE THERE Campaign & the BREAK THE SILENCE Campaign.
- BE AWARE BE THERE has a mission to provide tools and resources to help stop, repudiate and prevent sexual harassment and assault in social and professional environments. And to provide education and support for all member of the lighting industry to accomplish these goals.
- BREAK THE SILENCE – is focused on creating awareness around sexual harassment and assault and its prevalent nature in professional culture. The goal is to spark a conversation in the lighting industry around sexual assault and harassment, and a universal understanding that these are serious and prevalent issues that must be addressed.
Kelly Roberts, President of WILD, explains why the coalition is important for the lighting industry. “The Lamplighter Coalition is a core program within WILD’s mission to empower our members and challenge the industry to become more inclusive. When a person feels unwelcome, uncomfortable, or embarrassed by sexual harassment their contributions to and advancement in the lighting industry can suffer. The Coalition is our active voice highlighting this issue and a targeted campaign against the pervasiveness of harassment in the industry.”
Alessa Aguayo, WILD Board Member & Director of Outreach shares her perspective, “Lamplighter is one of WILD’s many wonderful initiatives – not only do we believe in what the Lamplighter Coalition stands for, our Board of Directors will offer support through assigning volunteers from our various chapters, featuring them at industry events like our Networking Hour at LightFair and providing a dedicated portion of our website to further promote their message.”
WILD and Williams maybe on to something. An article entitled What It Really Takes To Stop Sexual Harassment, in the American Psychological Association Monitor on Psychology, states that “Shifts in cultural attitudes toward sexual harassment may ultimately be the most valuable tool in combating sexual harassment by creating a shared sense of public responsibility and accountability.”
If you are interested in joining the effort to make the lighting industry safe and more inclusive, reach out to the Coalition at LamplighterCoalition@gmail.com to learn more, and visit their webpage to review the resources that they are curating.