Valued, a tool for stopping workplace harassment, raises $1.7M

Valued allows employees to give anonymous feedback about workplace conditions via Slack

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
February 1, 2019
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When most of us think of bullying, it probably conjures up images of school and being picked on by other kids. The phrase, "It gets better" is thrown around a lot, as if, once we grow up, that sort of treatment will stop. For a lot of people, though, it actually doesn't get better; more than 60 million workers in the U.S. are bullied in workplace. That can include everything from verbal abuse to unwanted sexual advances.

It was actually her own personal experience with workplace harassment that spurned Sabrina Atienza to founder Valued, a platform that is built to combat abuse at work, and to reward companies for good behavior. In one instance, for example, she was told by an investor that he would introduce her to other investors if she agreed to go on a date with his friend. 

"I was experiencing bias during VC fundraising process and I had close friends who were bullied. Some were being sexually harassed at work," she told me. 

On Friday, the company came out of stealth mode, aling with $1.7 million in seed funding raised in a round led by BootstrapLabs. The new funding will go toward both product development and toward hiring engineers. 

Founded in 2018, Valued is a Slack app that allows employees to give anonymous feedback about workplace conditions, allowing employers to get a jump on potential problems within the company before they begin to see negative results such as rise in attrition, decrease in productivity or formal complaints.

This is done through anonymous conversational surveys in Slack, where employers can ask any question and get instant anonymous responses back. When asking a question, employers have to use the /ask command to ask a question; the app ensures anonymity by aggregating responses before they are shared.

"This helps encourage honesty and authentic feedback," Atienza explained. 

Employers have the ability to scan messages in Slack public channels and detect trends over time of potential bullying or harassment behaviors. Valued also comes with organizational charts in Slack, so managers know who's who, who's where, and who does what within the company. 

"In the future, we will be showing patterns of communication in the org chart. For example, which teams send most messages," she said.

The company spent the last six months in stealth mode and now has 100 users; the typical customer for Valued are distributed teams that are using Slack and who "care about keeping employees happy, motivated, and included." Specifically, Valued is targeting companies with over 500 people, with at least 25 percent of their workforce remote or distributed.

While there other companies that are trying to tackle workplace bullying, such as Spot, a reporting tool so employees can submit complaints via Slack, what separates Valued is that "we're trying to proactively prevent bullying and harassment situations from getting worse," said Atienza.

"Our ultimate goal is making work safe and fair for all employees, so they can be productive and happy, without having to worry about bullying, harassment, discrimination, or bias."

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