The answer to workplace harassment amid recent scandals
In the wake of recent high profile sexual harassment and misconduct cases, two women have unveiled 'SaferSpace', a digital solution to what feels like a growing problem.
With just a few taps of a smartphone, SaferSpace aims to tackle sexual harassment, racism, and discrimination in workplaces and on campuses.
Founders, Ruth Sparkes and Sunita Gordon created the platform.
“In the UK 58% of women have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, on campus 68% of students have suffered harassment. But 79% of victims don’t report it. The horrifying statistics and personal stories motivated us to create this tool, we desperately need safer environments," Sparkes said.
Ruth Sparkes, an educational marketing & PR professional with a keen insight into the challenges faced by students and staff alike, added: "It's truly shocking to see the statistics and hear the stories. We wanted to create something that not only gave victims a voice but also helped institutions create safer environments.”
Sunita Gordon, a business professional, was compelled to take action after witnessing friends and colleagues face injustices. "The business world isn't immune to these issues," she shared. "Ruth and I realised that by merging our backgrounds, we could create something truly impactful."
The tool distinguishes itself in several ways. First, it supports anonymity, a critical feature enabling users to report an incident without fear of backlash. This aspect is particularly vital in hierarchical institutions, where power imbalances can discourage people from making a complaint.
Sparkes explained: “We need to encourage wider reporting. Many victims lack information on how to report an incident, they fear that they won’t be taken seriously, or find the whole process of reporting too intimidating.
“The most common reason for people not reporting, is not knowing whether what they’ve experienced actually warrants a complaint. So, we’ve built an AI chatbot, trained on UK legislation so users can ask questions before they make a complaint. We’ve been careful that we are not overburdening HR departments.”
SaferSpace offers organisations actionable insights. Sunita explained: It’s not about just making a complaint; it’s about providing organisations with the data and tools they need to make real change. By understanding the frequency and nature of issues, organisations can develop effective interventions. Lots of organisations have robust policies in place, but policies don’t equal protection.”
The response from early adopters has been overwhelmingly positive. Several universities and corporate entities are in advanced stages of discussions to integrate SaferSpace into their operational frameworks.
But beyond the tech, the story of its founders stands out. In an industry that often sidelines female entrepreneurs, Ruth and Sunita’s collaborative approach serves as an inspiration. Their backgrounds, though diverse, converge on one key principle: the importance of creating safe and inclusive environments.
Ruth added, "While developing SaferSpace, Sunita and I often reflected on our own experiences. It’s a stark reminder that this isn’t just a business endeavour for us; it's deeply personal."
As institutions and organisations worldwide grapple with the realities of the digital age, tools like SaferSpace will become increasingly indispensable. With its launch, Ruth and Sunita hope they've ignited a conversation, asking us all to reflect on the roles we play in making our campuses and workspaces safer.
If the early buzz is anything to go by, SaferSpace might just be the example many have been waiting for. In the face of increasing incidents of workplace sexual harassment and discrimination, it’s timely, necessary, and a testament to the vision of its founders.