Anita Hill on Hollywood's sexual harassment problem and importance of Supreme Court confirmation hearings

Anita Hill on Hollywood's harassment culture
Anita Hill on Hollywood's harassment culture... 06:04

A new report out Tuesday morning is shining a spotlight on sexual misconduct in the entertainment business. A nonprofit group called the Hollywood Commission, chaired by Anita Hill, found in a survey of more than 9,600 workers in the industry that only 35% believe it is likely someone in a position of power would be held accountable for harassing someone underneath them.

"There's a lack of trust in the system," Hill said on "CBS This Morning" Tuesday. "Cultural change is very slow — and that's what we're trying to do. It's more than just putting into play measures and processes and policies. It really is moving and working inside organizations to change a culture of silence."

Hill, who became widely known during Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' confirmation process when she accused him of sexual harassment and testified before the Senate, says the issue of accountability "is not limited to Hollywood." Thomas has denied those allegations.

Hill told co-host Gayle King that court confirmation hearings are an important way for the public and lawmakers to "understand" a nominee and their positions, "especially in middle of where we are right now." President Trump's nominee to take the seat of late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, is meeting with Senate Republicans ahead of what critics say will be a rushed confirmation hearing in order to get her on the bench before the election.

Read their conversation below:

Gayle King: Anita Hill joins us for an interview that you'll see first on "CBS This Morning." Good morning to you, Anita Hill. Really, always good to see you. We've got a lot to talk about, but I'm going to start with the survey. It says most workers believe those in the positions of power won't be held accountable for their actions, yet only 28% of workers who say they experienced misconduct reported it. So what does that tell you? 

Anita Hill: Well, it tells me that there's a lack of trust in systems. The workers will explain why they don't report. They don't report, one, because they think no one will take them seriously. They don't report because they fear that they will be retaliated against, and they don't report because they think that nothing will happen to the person that they are accusing. 

King: Has the Time's Up movement made a difference, do you think? 

Hill: We find the Time's Up movement and the measures that have been put in place in the last year or so have made a difference. It's just not enough. You know, cultural change is very slow — and that's what we're trying to do. It's more than just putting into place measures and processes and policies. It really is moving and working inside organizations to change a culture of silence. 

King: So what are you trying to do to bring about real change? How do you do that?

Hill: Well, we've done a number of things, and particularly as it relates to accountability. One of the measures that we're introducing is a new platform that will allow for greater accountability. It's a check-enabled platform that allows for an individual to log on to an app that they will be provided by an organization with which they are associated, whether it's a studio or a guild, and they can report problems that are occurring in their workplaces. 

King: The battle for equality in the entertainment industry sort of seems to mirror what's going on in social justice right now as well, don't you think? 

Hill: Absolutely. The issue of accountability is not limited to Hollywood. It's not limited to issues of sexual harassment. The issues of accountability process movements like Black Lives Matter. People want accountability for the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. People want accountability where we are right now with COVID and the issues that people are facing with their health. It's bigger than any one survey can capture, but we definitely worked hard to understand where workers are with the issue of accountability and what they want in order to solve the problems. 

King: I hear that. I want to talk now to private citizen Anita Hill. Is she available? Maybe she's wearing different glasses.

Hill: Should I change my glasses? 

King: Yes I would like to talk to private citizen Anita Hill if you don't mind, because she said that you're absolutely not convinced that a thorough Supreme Court confirmation can happen before the election. Why do you think that? 

Hill: People are concerned about so many things that are going on. But to start with, let's think about what a confirmation hearing is there for. It's there for the Senate to understand the nominee and the nominee's positions and qualifications, and character. It's there for the American public to understand the nominee and what they bring to the court in terms of their judicial positions. And the public really needs time to absorb all of this, especially in middle of where we are right now with so many things including the election, it's captured everybody's imagination. 

King: Let's talk about where we are right now. Joe Biden was very tough on you during those 1991 confirmation hearings. Yet you have announced that you are going to endorse him. What did it take for you to get past that? 

Hill: Well, I announced that I would vote for him because it really, at this point, I understand that the problems of harassment, whether they are in Hollywood or in your local restaurant, are severe. And it's not just about harassment, you know, there's a whole range of gender-based violence that people are experiencing and, again, the question of accountability comes up over and over again. We as a country need to do something about those problems. We're working at the commission to do it. And I know that organizations throughout this country are working. But I think it's really time that the government really looked at this problem as a huge public problem, and develop an agenda. 

King: All right, Anita Hill I'm sorry, we've got less than five seconds. I'm sure Joe Biden is glad to hear you're going to endorse him. Thank you so much.