The recent Pantene Philippines ad that went viral globally exposed the double standard women face in the workplace. It hit the nail on the head in less than 60 seconds. As a woman who has had her fair share of the ‘bossy’ label aimed at her, whilst men around me organised similar events only to be credited with great ‘leadership’ skills, this advert hit a nerve. The ad, viewed by over 3 million people, asks us to judge women more favourably – particularly when they share the same traits as men.
Labels against women by Pantene has men and women performing the same tasks – giving a speech, working at the office – but where the man is labeled the “boss” the woman is “bossy.” He is “persuasive,” while she is “pushy”. He is “smooth” while she is a “show-off.” Part of a larger campaign between Pantene Philippines and online news site Rappler, the ad is what BBDO Guerrero (the campaign developer) has dubbed “a simple call to action” that urges women “to cast aside these labels.”
As explained by the Wall Street Journal Pantene Philippines and Rappler conducted research which showed that while men and women are increasingly viewed more equally in the Philippines, double standards still dominated attitudes toward women. Clearly bias, even unconscious, is a big barrier against advancing women in the workplace. It’s worth noting that gender bias is not a white male phenomenon either. Women can be the harshest critics of each other – and as this video illustrates, bias is a problem that extends far beyond ‘Western’ countries.
Sheryl Sandberg, COO at Facebook, called the campaign her ‘Lean In Prize of the Day’, tweeting: “This is one of the most powerful videos I have ever seen illustrating how when women and men do the same things, they are seen in completely different ways. Really worth watching.” We couldn’t agree more.