Safety shouldn’t be proprietary

by cdawkins

It’s time for a new approach — let’s work together to raise the bar on safety and transparency

By Tony West

Businesses across America are always looking for ways to differentiate themselves from their peers. It makes sense as a competitive advantage. But when it comes to issues like safety, finding common ground can actually be more impactful.

Safety is a universal need for everyone. And while nothing is perfectly safe, statistics suggest that it’s time for Corporate America to rethink our approach to improve safety together.

We can all agree that the status quo isn’t safe enough. Serious issues such as sexual violence are more pervasive than people realize. It’s happening in our schools, on airplanes, in taxis and in our public transportation systems.

Nearly 44% of women in the US have been a victim of sexual violence in their lifetime. Women of color are especially at risk: studies show they face sexual violence at higher rates than women overall. According to the Black Women’s Blueprint, approximately 60% of black girls experience sexual abuse by age 18. And poverty provides an additional risk factor: people with the lowest household incomes have reported a victimization rate 12 times what is reported by those with higher incomes.

For too long, companies have avoided this difficult dialogue for fear of jeopardizing their brands. Organizations typically decline to share incident data, preferring to manage such issues behind closed doors.

But secrecy hasn’t made anyone safer.

In order to confront the hardest issues we face, we must fully understand them. That requires counting it, measuring it, and being willing to be publicly accountable for improvement.

That’s why last month Uber embraced a new approach: we voluntarily released a first-of-its kind U.S. Safety Report which includes reports of serious safety incidents on our platform over the last two years.

Overall the report showed that 99.9% of Uber trips saw no safety issues at all. In fact, only 0.0003% of all trips in this time period involved one of the critical safety incidents outlined in this report, reinforcing the fact that Uber is an extremely safe transportation option. But one report is unacceptable because it represents the lived experience of someone in our community.

Some question why we would release this type of data. In the United States alone, more than 45 rides on Uber happen every second. At that scale, we are not immune to society’s most serious safety challenges, including sexual assault. Certainly the report drew negative headlines. And given that no organization had done anything like this before, there was no roadmap.

However, there was one big reason to take action: we believe sharing this data will ultimately make Uber a safer platform.

Our Safety Report was borne out of a full scale commitment to change the way we approach safety. We partnered with more than 200 sexual violence prevention experts and organizations to listen and learn from them. Their input guided major changes in how we categorize the most serious safety incidents; how we train our support staff; and how we educate millions of riders and drivers on sexual misconduct and bystander intervention initiatives.

These learnings helped Uber improve. Over the past two years, we’ve pioneered multiple new safety features including our in-app emergency button, more rigorous background checks that continuously look for new criminal offenses, and technology that allows us to check in with customers if we detect a potential crash or unexpected long stop during a trip.

We also updated our arbitration and confidentiality policies to give survivors of sexual violence and sexual harassment more choices in their pursuit of justice. Since then, Google, Facebook, Airbnb, Lyft and other companies have also made similar changes. And we’ve committed to sharing the names of drivers who have been banned from our platform for the most serious safety incidents with our ridesharing peers.

While Uber’s steps are important, they only go so far. The biggest impact will be made when more companies take action. That’s why we continue to encourage all companies to consistently track serious safety issues, publicly report them, and collectively share best practices. These tools are now available for companies to get started:

  • The National Sexual Violence Resource Center and the Urban Institute created a standard classification system for our U.S. Safety Report since one did not exist in the past. We made it open source so that other companies can use it to improve safety for their own customers.
  • RALIANCE, a coalition of leading experts in awareness and prevention of sexual violence launched RALIANCE Business, a new resource center that is dedicated to helping public and private sector leaders adopt consistent, evidence-based standards and strategies to improve how they measure, respond to, and prevent sexual violence in the workplace or within business operations.

Safety shouldn’t be proprietary. If we want to see different results on deeply ingrained societal problems, we must work together to do the right thing, even if it’s a tough thing. America’s great companies have an opportunity this year to do just that.

0 comment

You may also like