SACRAMENTO — Earlier this year, a group of actors gathered at a theater in Sacramento for their latest performance: Starring in a video about sexual harassment that would be used in compliance training courses at workplaces across the country.
In the scene, a recruiter receives a dirty photo from a candidate they were planning to hire. Like many of the compliance training videos made by the company running this production, Emtrain, the story was based on a real experience. It happened to an Emtrain employee’s friend.
As businesses have been forced to rethink their workplace culture in the wake of the #MeToo movement, companies like Emtrain that offer workplace education and training courses have seen an opportunity for a newer and more realistic take on a genre that has often been overlooked as nothing more than an office requirement.
“Midmarket and enterprise companies spend $5 billion a year on harassment and code of conduct of training, which is basically two courses,” said Janine Yancey, who founded Emtrain after working as an employment lawyer representing tech companies in San Francisco. “And when you think about all of that money going to what people normally think of as compliance training, no one really pays attention and no one expects to get any value out of it. It's really kind of a shame.”
Since 2018, at least six states have either passed or amended legislation on sexual harassment training in the workplace in the wake of the #MeTooMovement. In New York, for example, companies with 15 or more employees are required to train their staff on an annual basis.
Emtrain produces all of its videos in-house, with a small production team and a rotating cast of professional actors. VICE News spent the day on set with Emtrain as they filmed one of their newest sexual harassment training videos.
Cover: Actors Katherine and Miller Stefen Tanquary on the set of a recent sexual harassment training video created by production company Emtrain. (Karl Mollohan and Ben Zupo/VICE News)