As part of a $5 million campaign, Uber just held first-of-its-kind meetings in Washington, D.C. to prevent sexual assault. WUSA9 was given an exclusive look at how Uber will stop sexual assaults.
Seven victims' advocacy groups met with the ride-sharing giant, beleaguered by bad press, to discuss how the company can make a cultural shift. It is not clear how many riders and drivers have become sexual assault since the company was founded nine years ago. Just last month, a driver in our area was charged with sexually assaulting a rider.
"We wanted to get together with all these experts and learn and listen and see what we could do to make a difference in this space," said Tracy Breeden, a former police officer who leads Uber's safety communications.
Uber insists the multi-day talk will turn into technical changes. "We have the passion and the technology to solve these problems," said Uber Director of Product Management Sachin Kansal. "But we can't do it alone."
Victims’ advocates say there's irony in this issue. They know commuters are assaulted on public transit, but they take Uber hoping it's safer.
"Having a corporation this invested in cultural change is an exciting turn around the right corner," said Kristen Houser of Raliance.
Uber has already upped trauma training at its call centers. But victims’ advocates demand a campaign that's direct.
"It's has to be everywhere," said Tonya Lovelace, CEO of the Women of Color Network. "The messaging must be happening in the car, the messaging is happening on television, the messaging is happening in clubs and bars that you're walking into."
The company is planning more meetings and more training for employees.