Hollywood women announce initiative to fight sexual harassment in all workplaces

Reese Witherspoon and Shonda Rhimes are among the more than 300 prominent women in Hollywood who have launched an initiative to combat sexual harassment in Tinseltown and beyond.

Time's Up members include actresses Cate Blanchett, Ashley Judd, Natalie Portman and Meryl Streep, Universal Pictures chair Donna Langley, feminist writer Gloria Steinem, lawyer and ex-Michelle Obama chief of staff Tina Tchen and Nike Foundation co-chair Maria Eitel.

The open letter, published as a full-page ad in The New York Times and the Spanish-language La Opinion, opens with "Dear sisters" and closes "in solidarity".

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The group launched the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund that will assist both men and women who have "experienced sexual harassment, assault or abuse in the workplace and while in pursuit of their careers".

"The struggle for women to break in, to rise up the ranks and to simply be heard and acknowledged in male-dominated workplaces must end; time's up on this impenetrable monopoly", said the letter. They're also concerned with gender equality in studios and talent agencies, and discouraging non-disclosure agreements, which are often used to stop employees from speaking out about negative treatment. The group is leaderless and functions as a collection of working groups.

Time's Up also is backing the movement for women to wear black, in solidarity with those who have been sexually harassed, at Sunday's Golden Globes ceremony. For years, we've sold these awards shows as women, with our gowns and colours and our lovely faces and our glamour.

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The women said they were encouraged to find ways to battle harassment in all industries after receiving a letter of support from Alianza Nacional de Campesinas (The National Farmworker Women's Alliance) in November.

Last month, the head of Ford Motor Company apologized to employees at two factories in Chicago and promised changes, after a scathing expose by the Times detailed pervasive harassment and mistreatment of women at the plants dating back to the 1990s.

Time's Up was officially unveiled Monday in a story by The New York Times, though the group was formed not long after the first round of allegations against former movie mogul Harvey Weinstein came to light in October.

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