The 4As Philippines is developing a new code of conduct on safe workplace policies, designed for smaller or independent agencies who don't yet have their own handbooks.
The code of conduct comes in direct response to recent allegations of harassment against an independent agency owner—Gigil co-founder Herbert Hernandez. Allegations first came to light on August 12 when a creative director, Denise 'Deng' Tee, posted a personal account of harassment from Hernandez on Facebook. Since the post, many more accounts of harassment in the Philippines ad industry are emerging.
The 4As held a meeting on August 26 to address the allegations of what it referred to as "unprofessional conduct" that violates the 4As code of ethics.
Chair Melvin Mangada, the chief creative officer of TBWA\Santiago Mangada Puno, said the organisation is conducting an investigation into the allegations after receiving formal complaints.
While the 4As doesn't have jurisdiction on possible transgressions of the law, it has partnered with women's organisation Gabriela, which has agreed to "represent 4As member employees who would like to come forward to report behavioral misconduct experienced in the workplace". Beyond Gabriela, it is exploring other channels of collaboration.
These initiatives may provide an avenue to report misconduct and take suitable action, but they will not necessarily prevent further harassment cases from happening and going unreported.
Additionally, 4As is working on a new code of conduct which it said "aims to help its members who may not have the benefit of tools and protocols in coming up with their own handbook on proper conduct and ensuring a safe workplace."
Mangada said in the opening remarks of the August 26 meeting: "So much still needs to be done to raise awareness and foster social responsibility within our industry. We are committed to prioritising educational programs and continuing the conversations on ethical issues, responsible creativity, and ensuring a safe workplace for everyone."