Gender based harassment and assault is a widespread societal issue around the world, and has been for too long. In fact it was 20 years ago that the United Nations General Assembly nominated 25 November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
At Uber we want to play our part in achieving change. That’s why this time last year, we announced our commitment to helping drive change across Australia and New Zealand.
This announcement included funding partnerships with organisations that do phenomenal work across Australia and New Zealand – WESNET (Women’s Services Network), Sexual Abuse Prevention Network (SAPN), and Australia Says No More. We also announced we would roll out practical education for driver-partners, work to raise awareness amongst the Uber community, and establish an ANZ Uber Women’s Safety Forum – a group comprised of thought-leaders, police, local academics and experts.
One year on, it’s time for an update.
Firstly, I’m proud to say that we are partnering in 2020 with WESNET, SAPN, Australia Says No More and TOAH-NNEST, New Zealand’s National Network for Ending Sexual Violence Together. After sponsoring the TOAH-NNEST bi-ennial conference in 2019 we wanted to work more closely with them in 2020. These organisations do essential work in creating a safer, more equitable society and we are proud to support their work, and to gain their insight and advice on what we can do better.
We also rolled out compulsory education modules to all driver-partners using the Uber app in Australia and New Zealand. These modules include a focus on sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct and go beyond behaviour that is clearly unacceptable. They give practical examples of behaviour that might be well-meaning, but riders tell us make them feel uncomfortable. Driver-partners across the two countries will have until the end of January 2020 to complete these or they will no longer have access to the Uber driver app.
Our Uber ANZ Women’s Safety Forum – a group comprised of thought-leaders, police, local academics and experts – also met twice in 2019, with the next meeting scheduled for early 2020. This forum has given us invaluable guidance and advice, bringing new perspectives to how we think about personal safety in transport. From thinking about women’s safety when we’re asked to introduce fixed pick-up and drop-off zones around event zones or busy areas, to helping us shape the education modules mentioned above.
This forum has helped connect Uber with a network of advocates, resources, knowledge and information so that we can best understand how we can drive real change.
We’ve also been busy working on enhancing and introducing new safety features on the Uber app. For example, this year we introduced new Check Your ride push notifications, reminding riders at the moment it matters most to check the licence plate, car make and driver’s photo before getting into the car. We also enhanced our Real-Time ID Check feature, which was first introduced in 2016 and remains the only feature of its type in Australia and New Zealand. This “driver selfie” helps ensure that the driver behind the wheel matches the account in our system. We improved and relaunched our Community Guidelines, in easier to understand language and with a focus on safety and respect for all. And we’re working to let riders and drivers know that when we receive a serious report, we take privacy seriously, suspend access to the app while our specialist team looks into the report, and most importantly, that we do take action.
We’ve also reached out to raise awareness amongst riders, drivers, staff and beyond – from supporting Australia Says No More’s push to tackle the scourge of domestic violence to helping create a better urban environment for women in Auckland.
While no form of transport is 100% free of incidents, we are committed to doing our part and promoting the safe use of our app, tackling tough issues, and always making the world a better place to move around in.