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Reporting workplace harassment? There's an app for that.

Once known for comedy, the Upright Citizens Brigade found themselves the decidedly unfunny topic of discussions involving workplace assault and harassment. After a show’s host faced accusations of rape, UCB set up a hotline for employees to report these types of incidences to counselors and human resource professionals in New York and Los Angeles.

The outdated nature of the hotline resulted in minimal use. Staff meeting counselors face-to-face were hesitant to file formal complaints, fearing retribution.

Why not use a more modern conveyance to report these incidences? Why not provide something that is more natural than a phone call and less intimidating than an in-person meeting?

Why not create an app for that?

Callisto is an app that helps users/victims overcome their reluctance to be the first person to “turn someone in.” It addresses oftentimes-misguided notions that the actions were a one-time incident or uncertainty over whether what happened qualified as assault.

The app allows them to log it without reporting the event. If another victim comes forward in the future, they are notified and asked if they want to come forward.

Kaiser Permanente has also gotten into the app act with StopIt, a messaging system that lets victims and witnesses anonymously report harassment. The app allows them to provide screenshots, videos and other evidence for administrators to respond to and ask for details.

StopIt also provides anonymity by automatically sending messages directly to HR with evidence catalogued for future reference. Multiple HR employees receive the reports, reducing the chance for a single worker ignoring or squashing the inquiry.

Beyond the confines of bi-coastal comedy troupes and health care providers, the problem of workplace harassment is widespread. Studies reveal that less than a third of people who claim to be harassed at work reported it at all. A much smaller two to thirteen percent filed a formal complaint with their HR departments or outside entities.

Modern technology may move workplaces and some of their employees away from old-time harassment and into a more modern era.

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