Started in 2012 to give models more of a voice at work, the Model Alliance has since broadened to include strategic research, policy initiatives and campaigns.
In striving to promote fair treatment, equal opportunity and more sustainable practices “from the runway to the factory floor,” the group has various initiatives underfoot. For starters, with New York State Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, the Model Alliance has introduced the Models’ Harassment Protection Act, a bill designed to close loopholes that would leave models open to sexual harassment on the job. California Assemblyman Marc Levine is pitching in with a similar bill, the Talent Protections Act of 2018. That one is meant to prevent sexual abuse and eating disorders and calls for the training of agents and artists to inform them of their obligations and rights.
During last month’s New York Fashion Week, the Model Alliance teamed with the Council Fashion Designers of America to give models some privacy while changing backstage. IMG and Pier 59 were on board with the idea in their respective venues and the goal is “to build on these efforts in the future,” according to Model Alliance founder Sara Ziff.
Visitors to the group’s site, who are 18 or older and took part in NYFW, can participate in a confidential survey about their experiences. In fact, the Model Alliance is conducting multiple surveys to learn about models’ experiences and concerns in and beyond New York. Started two years ago, this research encourages feedback — from other stakeholders as well — about their working conditions and potential improvements. Just last week, Karen Elson helped host a listening session with models in New York.
The Model Alliance has also been working closely with industry stakeholders on another initiative “that is founded on the understanding that, in order to achieve meaningful and lasting improvements, human rights protections in supply chains must be worker-driven, enforcement focused, and based on legally binding commitments that assign responsibility for improving working conditions to the global corporations at the top of supply chains,” Ziff said. The premise is that preventing sexual misconduct requires:
• Strong standards for contractors, which models play a central role in developing.
• Robust monitoring of compliance with those standards by a body that is independent of the corporations involved.
• A mechanism for individuals facing harassment to file complaints with that body and for those complaints to be investigated promptly and impartially.
• Clear consequences for photographers and any other contractors who violate the standards, up to and including losing the right to do business with participating media companies and fashion brands.
• Education for all parties, so everyone understands the rules and their rights and responsibilities.
• Commitments from corporations to uphold the standards and respect the results of investigations.