The growing #metoo movement has brought long-standing issues of workplace harassment to the forefront of the worldwide cultural discussion. Now London-based startup Vault has designed a blockchain-powered technology to reinvent the way harassment is recorded and reported.
Vault allows users to record workplace harassment experiences, store evidence and personal memos — all with complete control over the information stored in their Vault. Once each case is recorded, the user is notified if the alleged offender’s name is deposited in Vault by other users. Vault also connects the user to the appropriate internal personnel at their organization.
Vault argues that workplace harassment is unreported and unacknowledged, mostly because of low trust levels of individuals in the system, and that these cases take their toll on the wellbeing of employees and the organization as a whole. We spoke with co-founder and CEO Neta Meidav at UNLEASH London about the inspiration for the company and where it’s headed next.
How does Vault work?
Vault is the world’s first blockchain-powered counter-harassment platform built for the workplace. Vault creates a digital space for people to report any harassment or bullying incident they’ve experienced at work. It allows them to identify whether they’re part of a larger pattern by the same harasser, therefore empowering them to take action. We also create reporting channels straight to the right person at HR, to empower employees with the most innovative tool out there for counter-harassment.
How does this differ from a normal report to HR?
First, because of the blockchain features, it’s tamper-proof and no one has access to it other than the employee. So employees can really trust the system. Second, the fact that people can use our system to identify whether they’re part of the same pattern by the same harasser is a major enabler for people to come forward, because we know there is strength in numbers. Third, we allow people to choose whether they want to be part of a collective reporting action and send their complaints together to HR, while still safeguarding everyone’s’ identity. Finally, a secure channel to HR means that people don’t need to worry about who can see that they’ve actually came forward with a complaint.
What was the genesis for the company?
We founded Vault last year at the very beginning of the “me too” campaign. The campaign really highlighted that there is a problem with not only the fact that harassment is so endemic in the workplace but also that recording systems worldwide are broken and inadequate. That’s the reason these stories are spilling out, because people don’t trust the reporting channels in HR in their own organizations.
What do you want to accomplish in the next 18 months?
We want to finish our pilot program and start enrolling the systems within big corporations. We’re aiming to work with corporations with more than 1,000 people. We’re hoping to target the media and tech sectors first.
Of the other start-ups at UNLEASH London, which one do find the most interesting?
I love the Actiview one; I love general AI. I love the use of artificial intelligence coming alongside blockchain. It’s one of the most important technologies of our time. I love seeing that in use.
Think back to your very first job. What’s the biggest difference between when you first started working and today’s world workplace?
I was working in my local burger shop. Technology was nowhere to be seen. We’re moving to a digitized world. It’s exciting and it creates possibilities that just weren’t there when I started working some time ago.
Another major difference is that the market today is far more flexible. People move around. People therefore have expectations for their employer and employers are starting to compete amongst themselves on what they offer to employees. When I started working 20 years ago it was very much still the world of people who would find a career for a lifetime and stick to it. We’re in a different world right now.