DETROIT (AP/CBS SF) — Uber is pledging $5 million during the next five years to fund sexual assault prevention groups as well as train its own employees.
The move was announced Monday and is aimed at helping the ride-hailing service combat its own problems and society as a whole.
Uber’s image has been tarnished by findings of sexual harassment of employees and multiple reports of drivers assaulting passengers. Other industries have also recently come under fire as women have been coming forward with complaints of sexual assault in Hollywood and other industries.
Uber has faced multiple allegations of criminal behavior by its drivers. A reported culture of harassment inside the company led to the resignation of its founder, Travis Kalanick, as CEO.
Last summer, a nighttime ride turned into a nightmare when 43-year-old Kris Brix says her Uber driver attacked her.
“I pushed him off me. He came at me again, did the same thing; shoved his tongue in my mouth,” said Brix.
She reported it and an Uber rep called her within hours, but with little in the way of results.
“It almost seems like a bit dismissive,” said Brix. “I never even found out if the driver was still on the road.”
Uber says the new initiative will make it easier for riders to share their stories.
Uber says the groups have helped it train 150 customer service agents for a team to deal with sexual assault reports. They’ve learned how to interview victims without being judgmental, and how to refer them to police and a crisis hotline.
But some riders like Brix argue the company needs to go even further with additional changes, adding an in-app panic button, cameras in cars and finger print-based background checks for drivers.
The company doesn’t have plans to make those changes. Instead they are sending out information on sexual assault prevention to riders and drivers through their app.
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