The “Friends” star recently filmed a series of short films with filmmaker Sigal Avin that are designed to empower people to report sexual harassment and get companies to reform their workplaces.
The six films show different examples of workplace sexual harassment.
“I want to change things,” Schwimmer wrote in an essay about the campaign for NBC News.
It’s an issue that’s been close to Schwimmer’s heart since he was a child.
“I grew up with stories of sexual harassment from my mother: She was a young, attractive lawyer, working in the emerging field of family law in California, and there weren’t a lot of them at the time. But while working at different firms before she established her own, she was subjected to sexual harassment and a lot of discrimination, chauvinism and sexism — by judges, other lawyers, even clients.”
“I grew up with those stories, and so did my sister. Years later, I heard from my sister and pretty much every woman I know that they had all experienced some form of sexual harassment, and many are victims of sexual assault.”
Schwimmer isn’t jumping on a bandwagon. For the past 20 years, he’s been an advocate for child and adult victims of sexual violence with the The Rape Foundation. He’s been on the board of directors for the last 15 years.
Still, Schwimmer admits things started getting worse before the 2016 election.
“I really noticed that women were being more openly demeaned and discredited and then, with a presidential candidate boasting of committing sexual assault on audio tape, I thought, This is real. This is unacceptable. I’m the father of a six-and-a-half year-old daughter; if I’m going to do something about this for the future generations, now is the time.”
Schwimmer stars in one of the films, playing a supportive boss who promotes a female employee, only to ruin the moment by trying to kiss her.
Avin said it’s important that the films use “nice, friendly” male characters.
“They’re not monsters, they’re not mean,” she said, according to USA Today. “They’re just nice guys, good-looking — which almost makes it confusing. You don’t really even know it happened.”
The films are starting to get picked up by networks, and shortened versions are beginning to appear in New York City taxi cabs.
You can read Schwimmer’s complete essay about the project here.