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Callisto today announced plans to launch a platform that lets tech startup founders report incidents of sexual harassment. This is Callisto’s first effort to extend its platform for reporting unwanted sexual contact beyond college campuses. Among startup founders, the platform is likely to find incidents of sexual harassment highest among investors, founder Jessica Ladd told VentureBeat. Of course, this is not meant as a blanket indictment, and Callisto’s expansion is funded in part by VC firms like Greylock Partners and First Round Capital.
“Our hope is that if founders see the value in this, they’ll want it for their own companies. And if VCs see the value in this, they’ll want it for their portfolio companies,” Ladd told VentureBeat in a phone interview.
Launched in 2015, Callisto’s Campus offering is now available for reporting sexual assault on 13 colleges and universities, including Stanford University and other schools in California, Iowa, and New York.
Callisto’s offering for tech startup founders will focus on sexual harassment and unwanted sexual contact of any kind.
Whether on college campuses or in the tech startup investment world, Callisto bases its platform on the knowledge that women may feel more comfortable or compelled to come forward if other victims do so.
It was also made to identify repeat sexual offenders.
That’s why, in the college version, Callisto alerts a victim each time the person they were assaulted by is accused by another person. The victim then has the option to forward their timestamped document detailing their assault to a college administrator responsible for addressing sexual assault incidents.
When a match is identified in the tech industry version, the victim is notified by a Callisto Options Counselor. Then they’re given the choice to file a lawsuit, report the incident to the police or press, confront the perpetrator, or report the incident to their human resources rep.
Unwanted sexual advances can be reported immediately, or a victim can wait until they’re ready or receive a match notification.
College students who have Callisto available are 5 times more likely to report their assault to their school at a rate 3 times faster than the national average, according to the nonprofit. A college campus can be pretty different from your average workplace, but Callisto is hoping that its offering will have similar results in the tech industry.
The expansion was announced onstage today at Y Combinator’s Demo Day. Callisto was one of three nonprofits to participate in the Winter 2018 Batch.
Last year, as female startup founders began to accuse prominent investors like 500 Startups cofounder Dave McClure of harassment, Ladd said she began to hear from friends in the tech industry.
“In late June last year, I was flooded with emails and Facebook messages from friends in tech asking us to expand into their sector,” Ladd said in a statement shared with VentureBeat. “We’re excited about entering the startup space because this is our community, and because norms set by VCs set the tone for the rest of the tech industry.”
To support the platform’s expansion to include tech company employees, the nonprofit has received donations from Greylock Partners, First Round Capital, Obvious Ventures, Uncork Capital, and Data Collective VC.
“Callisto is changing the equation,” said Greylock Partners’ Reid Hoffman in a Medium post. “They empower victims by providing them with the options, information, and support they need, giving them the ability to disclose in their own time and own way. We are proud to support Callisto as they scale their impact and change the culture of sexual violence that has persisted for far too long.”
After its expansion into monitoring tech startups and venture capital firms, Callisto will explore other industry-specific deployments of its sexual harassment reporting platform.
Areas currently being considered include entertainment, media, politics, and sports, Ladd said.
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