Tired of Uber’s sexist BS? Here’s how to get home safely.
For Uber, 2017 is off to a rough start: In January, the company came under fire after its CEO, Travis Kalanick, joined President Trump’s business advisory group. Immediate backlash against the startup led Kalanick to resign from the committee in early February.
Uber’s political struggles have been well documented, but the company is flailing in other ways as well. In late February, Susan Fowler?—?a former site reliability engineer at Uber?—?published a shocking blog post detailing the many instances of sexual harassment and discrimination she suffered while working for the company.
Issues of physical violence, sexual assault and harassment have blighted Uber’s meteoric rise. In 2016, the San Francisco-based company settled a lawsuit with two female riders who said they’d been assaulted by their Uber drivers. (Lyft, another popular ride sharing app, is battling similar problems.)
Women are unnerved by the way ride share companies repeatedly bungle incidents of sexual harassment and assault. Enter See Jane Go, a new ride share company in California, which looks to foster a community of women helping women.
Savannah Jordan was eighteen when she told her dad that she was thinking of driving for Uber. Her dad?—?a successful wealth manager?—?wasn’t thrilled by the prospect. When Savannah floated the idea of a ride share company where women were both the drivers and passengers, her dad got on board. See Jane Go was announced to the public in June and made its official debut in September.
See Jane Go’s business model borrows heavily from Uber and Lyft?—?with notable exceptions. The company only employs female drivers, although anyone with a female-identifying driver’s license is welcome to use or drive for the company. Men are allowed to use the service, but only in the company of a female rider.
Both Uber and Lyft have been criticized for not properly screening drivers. By contrast?—?in addition to passing a background check?—?See Jane Go drivers are required to become certified and undergo a training process. Their driving histories are scrutinized before they’re allowed to pick up passengers.
The company also implemented a new feature that allows riders and drivers to designate their favorites. When a passenger hails a ride, their preferred drivers are pushed to the front of the queue, ultimately allowing users to build relationships with the people shuttling them around town.
See Jane Go’s CEO, Kimberly Toonen, tells TechCrunch, “We’re creating a community of women helping women to achieve goals, whether they’re personal or professional.”
She tells Forbes that women make up only 25% of drivers at larger ride share companies. The fear women have of being assaulted either as a driver or passenger drives this gender disparity. See Jane Go gives these women the option and opportunity to supplement their income in a safe way.
When it comes to promoting the advancement of women, the company is putting its money where its mouth is: Employee benefits include referral bonuses for drivers in the form of company stock. Drivers who give 30 rides in a month are eligible to receive $300 dollars to be put towards a car payment. The company hopes this will help subsidize the purchase of newer cars for low-income women, affording them increased independence.
In the spirit of community building, See Jane Go has also pledged to support women through strategic partnerships and charitable donations. It plans to donate 2% of its net revenue to organizations that empower and promote the upward mobility of women around the world. In January, See Jane Go announced it was partnering with Laura’s House, a state-approved domestic violence treatment agency in Orange County.
The company appears to be doing well. The app has a rating of 3.9 (out of 5) stars on Google Play. While consumers love the concept, many acknowledge that the app itself tends to malfunction.
See Jane Go is currently available only in the area between Los Angeles and San Diego, but the company hopes to expand to cities across the country. In the meantime, other female-centric ride share services are popping up: The Boston-based Safr expects to launch this spring.
The Boston Globe reports that Safr’s female-only policy may leave the company vulnerable to discrimination lawsuits. However, See Jane Go appears to have evaded potential litigation (for now, anyways) by using the app to redirect men to Uber or Lyft.
In a focus group conducted before the company’s launch, See Jane Go learned that women prefer a woman-focused ride share company over comparable alternatives. If See Jane Go is successful, it may put pressure on larger companies, like Lyft and Uber, to refine and reform their policies concerning sexual assault and harassment.
And that can only be a good thing.