Ethical Manager Symposium Report

On Thursday 2nd May ITC and Equity hosted a joint ‘Excellence in Management’ Symposium, inviting member companies to come and find out more about the ITC/Equity Ethical Manager Scheme, and improve their best practice in management.

ITC members including Actors Touring Company, Oily Cart, ZooNation, Clean Break, Turtle Key Arts and East London Dance joined us for an afternoon of panel discussions, round table networking and Q&A opportunities. The panel, chaired by ITC CEO Charlotte Jones, included experienced Ethical Managers, Andrew Smaje from Actors Touring Company, Chris Corner from Kali and Yellow Earth, Zoe Lally from Oily Cart. We were also joined by Charlotte Bence, Equity’s Industrial Organiser for Independent Theatre & Low/No Pay, and Equity Young Members Councillor and Actor, Paul Valentine. Paul detailed how much he valued working for companies who are members of the scheme, and how much better the working conditions are for him when companies pay people well, give actors breaks and make sure their working environment is safe and pleasant.

Over the course of the afternoon we discussed how ITC and Equity want to support member companies on the road towards membership of the Ethical Manager scheme, reminding them that to manage people ethically does not require membership of an official scheme. Just doing what you can to improve the contracting and working conditions of the people you engage is a step in the right direction – ethical management is a process not an event. Charlotte Bence reiterated that the ITC/Ethical Manager contracts are not imposed on ITC members by Equity, but the agreements are negotiated between two bodies, with ITC at the heart of the discussion, and our members are part of consultations and amendments so that the agreements respond to the changing needs of the sector.

Andrew Smaje spoke about how reassuring a company being a member of the Ethical Manager scheme was for both a manager and an artist, as the manager would know the ‘ethical’ answer to a question or situation, or telephone the ITC to receive advice and give the artist the correct information. Zoe Lally emphasised how the scheme helps producers get the best of out of people, by helping to recruit and retain talent and also improve access to the sector, namely by allowing people to earn a living that allows them to think of retirement due to having a pension scheme.

A misconception in the room was that the Ethical Manager contracts are fixed, but ITC and Equity can mutually approve variations to the contracts on a case by case basis, so the contracts suit the needs of the company or project.

By the end of the afternoon our current Ethical Managers felt much more informed and confident about using the contracts, understanding pensions and working with ethical management values. ITC members who are working towards becoming Ethical Managers found they were on a great path towards achieving membership of the scheme and were inspired to introduce more working policies and attitudes to further improve their best ethical practice. It was encouraging to see established Ethical Managers to come together with new or prospective Ethical Managers to build excellence in management skills, share ideas and network.

Hosting member events is core to ITC’s work, and we enjoyed getting to know some of our members better over a glass of wine at the end of the symposium and hear more about current projects and queries. We were very happy to host the event with Equity, which was also a celebration of our healthy working relationship with them, showing how collaboratively and positively we are working together to improve the conditions of our sector.

If you would like to know more about the Ethical Manager scheme and how simple ITC can make your contracting for you, we are always here to answer any questions and find the flexibility required to how we can help the project go ahead successfully.