Every day, Uber connects millions of trips around the world. At that scale, our service reflects the world in which we operate – both the good and the bad. The good news is that the good that we see far outweighs the bad. In fact, the vast majority (99.9%) of Uber trips end without any safety-related report at all. The bad news is that sexual harassment pervades every industry and every community globally – and rideshare and other transport modes are no exception.
Unlike other modes of transportation such as buses, taxis, trains and airlines, Uber prompts riders and driver-partners for feedback after every trip. We not only offer multiple ways for people to report issues to us, we encourage people to report, which we believe is crucial given how under-reported sexual harassment is across society.
Encouraging reporting from both driver-partners and riders, categorising these reports and acting on those reports, is a core pillar of how we approach helping keep the entire Uber community safe.
To help do this, we worked with the National Sexual Violence Resource Center and the Urban Institute in the US to develop a global taxonomy so that we could categorise incidents of sexual misconduct, and of sexual assault that are reported. Prior to this, there was no uniform industry standard for counting and categorising these types of incidents. We made this much needed classification system open source so other companies can use it to improve safety for their own customers.
Implementing a standard taxonomy like this enables our safety teams to remove access to the platform swiftly for reports of sexual assault or serious sexual misconduct, and take action when there are repeated reports of a similar nature for less serious reports.
Reports which fall into the category of sexual misconduct can include ‘asking personal questions’, ‘staring or leering’, and ‘inappropriate comments or gestures’. In these cases, we generally inform the individual that their behaviour has made another person feel uncomfortable. We may also suspend access to the app until the individual acknowledges Uber’s Community Guidelines, which all users of the Uber app are required to comply with. Repeated reports of a similar nature may result in a driver-partner or a rider losing access to the app.
When we receive more serious reports of sexual misconduct or of sexual assault, access to the app is immediately suspended while our specialist team investigates. If we have information that a rider or driver has perpetrated a sexual assault we permanently deactivate them from Uber. We use a survivor-centric approach for reports of sexual assault that relies heavily on a survivor’s statement of experience. We also provide reporting parties with information to give to the police, if they choose to report, and resources to get help.
Through feedback channels like our in app On-Trip Reporting feature, riders are able to easily and discreetly report non-emergency situations where they may feel uncomfortable and our safety team follows up after the trip.
But it’s not just about safety on a trip. Through our Driving Change commitment we work with community partners to help address the societal issue of gender-based violence. Over the last three years, we have established partnerships with leading organisations such as WESNET, Australia Says No More, RespectEd Aotearoa and TOAH-NNEST that have shaped the way we approach sexual misconduct and assault.
In consultation with these experts, we’ve rolled out educational modules for driver-partners on what is and isn’t appropriate behaviour, developed specialised training for our incident response team, enhanced our processes in line with best practices and launched our Women’s Safety Forum.
While we acknowledge there will always be work to do, we are committed to learning, listening and playing our part in developing solutions to help tackle the societal issue of sexual misconduct head on.