Startups Peddle Innovative Tools to Fight Tech’s #MeToo Problem

As the last year has shown, the tech industry has a significant problem with sexual harassment and ensuring that women are treated equitably in the workplace.

Now, some founders are seeking to use tech tools such as chatbots, artificial intelligence, analytics, and mobile to help clients remedy those deficiencies.

One of those founders is Heather Yanak, a Houston-based attorney who recently co-founded B3ond (pronounced “beyond”), a consultancy that works with companies to assess workplace cultures and find out if a potentially troubling situation is brewing, or whether their human relations departments might need to shore up preventive measures.

B3ond’s questionnaires, which are customized for different industries, are available on any device—handy for employees who don’t work in a traditional cube setting, or for freelancers who do not have corporate e-mail accounts, Yanak says. Individual survey responses are anonymous, and won’t be shared with company management.

“We take the results and do the analysis, looking for patterns in the responses or, which is sometimes even more important, what they don’t say, or what they are trying to get around saying,” she says.

Among the industries that B3ond is targeting are hospitality, retail, and tech—each of which has been hit with allegations of impropriety in the last year.

While much of the media attention has focused on examples of harassment in media, Hollywood, and high-profile tech and venture firms, inappropriate behavior also afflicts low-wage workers in industries such as retail and hospitality that employ a “customer is always right” ethos, according to studies of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission data.

“Sometimes low-wage workers are treated as dispensable, and that puts people in a situation where they feel no one believes them,” said Jocelyn Frye of the Center For American Progress, according to a Washington Post article. “Or if they complain about something, they might be fired instead of being treated like they have a legitimate complaint.”

Frye, who studies women’s economic security, analyzed … Next Page »

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Angela Shah is the editor of Xconomy Texas. She can be reached at ashah@xconomy.com or (214) 793-5763. Follow @angelashah

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