With the recent tidal wave of stories about sexual misconduct in Hollywood and other industries, Claire Schmidt is leaving 20th Century Fox to try to do something to address the problem.
Schmidt, who joined 20th Century Fox as VP of technology and innovation just eight months ago, has started a new venture that will let people anonymously report incidences of sexual harassment, discrimination and bias they witness on the job. Her startup, L.A.-based AllVoices, is developing a tool that will let anyone submit first-hand accounts of harassment or bias to their company’s CEO and board of directors on an anonymous basis.
In a Medium post announcing the venture, Schmidt said the issue is personal for her because she’s a sexual-assault survivor. “[W]ith all of these stories coming to the forefront, I realized I had to do more,” Schmidt wrote.
“The recent onslaught of courageous women and men coming forward to tell their stories about assault and harassment has been incredibly inspiring to me,” she wrote. But “as I read news article after news article, I kept thinking: Have we done enough? Have I done enough?”
Last month’s explosive exposés on Harvey Weinstein’s years of alleged sexual harassment and sexual assault have had major ripple effects. Others in the entertainment industry since accused of sexual misconduct include Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K. and Brett Ratner.
The yet-to-launch AllVoices (at allvoices.co) will aggregate reports by company, and deliver those to the CEO and board without any personally identifiable information. The site will keep users informed of progress in each case and whether the company has taken action, according to Schmidt. “We believe that this increased transparency and accountability will help companies see that they must take action, and help them prioritize what to do first,” she wrote.
Investors in AllVoices include Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff, Tinder co-founder Sean Rad; Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, former Google exec and founder of Joyus; and law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. Advisers include Susan Fowler, the ex-Uber engineer who detailed the ride-sharing company’s sexist culture and led Uber to oust CEO Travis Kalanick and embark on other reforms.
According to Schmidt, her research found that employees feel that reporting harassment through HR channels “comes at a significant cost to their career.”
“If we can provide a safe way for employees to report, we can help more people,” she wrote.
Prior to joining 20th Century Fox, Schmidt was senior director of giving at Thrive Market, a membership-based e-commerce platform company that aims to deliver affordable natural and organic foods and products. Before that, she worked with Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore to help form non-profit org Thorn: Digital Defenders of Children, which develops technology tools to fight child sex trafficking and other forms of exploitation.
Schmidt’s launch of AllVoices was first reported by Yahoo Finance.