With input from Rainn, one of the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organizations, the National Ad Council and actor David Schwimmer produced three advertisements that demonstrate sexual misconduct in the workplace. Aptly titled #thatsharassment the ads tactfully shine a light on a topic of grave importance.
All based on real incidents, the advertisements strive to go beyond typical HR
sponsored sexual harassment training videos. Instead of the classically awkward
catcalls and obvious advances of said training videos, the #thatsharassment videos
seek to take a more realistic look at sexual harassment on the job.
In the attached ad, titled, "The Boss," David Schwimmer plays the part
of a lawyer working late with one of his subordinate employees, a young woman.
He asks her for some help in his office and from here, things go from
questionable to outright inappropriate.
The boss in this scenario reiterates his “intention” to thank the young woman for
her hard work through unwanted romantic advances. He may not have evil
intentions, but has no bearing on the fact that his feelings were not
The video perfectly highlights the complex role of power, as the young woman tries
to express her gratitude for her job, but at the same time make it clear that
she wants nothing more than a professional relationship with her boss.
Perhaps most importantly, the video shows a boss that’s desperate not to have this
rejection turn into a sexual harassment case. Schwimmer’s character repeatedly
tells the young woman, “I want things to be good between us, I don’t want
things to be awkward.” This added pressure to women and lower ranking employees
to keep instances of sexual harassment on the down low is what prevented people
from sharing their stories for so long.
It’s subtle, yet so straightforward. The ads will be an effective tool to spark
conversations about how to address sexual harassment.