Below is our recent interview with Ariel Weindling, CEO of #NotMe:
Q: Please provide a brief introduction/overview of #NotMe.
A: The problem at-hand is centralized corporate power and a lack of accountability that prioritizes the bottom line over individual safety. Employees need an easier, more comfortable way to report misconduct (with anonymity, if they choose) and employers need a safer way to capture it (analytics), so both can benefit by preventing escalation and creating an overall safer environment for everyone. The overwhelming majority of people who experience or witness misconduct in the workplace never report it. There are a few reasons that explain this lack of reporting from victims and witnesses. #NotMe was created, in part, to remedy the problem of lack of reporting. Our intention is to make the reporting of misconduct, and as a by-product, its prevention and elimination, as easy as possible for the employees. #NotMe provide a safe, practical way for people to report misconduct and prevent further incidents or additional victims.
#NotMe is a mobile misconduct solution that supports anyone who needs help. Our open platform offers reporting and prevention, moving the needle from awareness to action. #NotMe offers an open, resolution-seeking reporting platform serving both individuals and organizations alike.
Q: Ariel, what were you doing before #NotMe?
A: Before creating #NotMe, I was an employment and corporate lawyer at a premiere Los Angeles based law firm (MSK). Prior to that, I was an entrepreneur (I have always been one at heart) and a lawyer at Littler, where I started my legal career in Los Angeles.
Q: Where did you get the idea for such an app? Why now?
A: The idea for #NotMe was born at the end of 2017 on a plane. I was flying back from Paris to Los Angeles reading one of the #MeToo stories in a magazine. In the article, a famous actress was sharing how she had been the victim of sexual harassment. I was very surprised that someone so successful and powerful that had reached so many achievements was not able to prevent the abuse. And two thoughts entered my mind almost simultaneously. 1. If a successful person like this actress cannot prevent nor report misconduct, how much more difficult must it be for a regular victim, the people living paycheck to paycheck or the person who is more vulnerable? And #2, I realized that my children were one day going to be in the workplace. And there was no way I was going to let any person harass or bully them. I then decided to think about the problem and use my resources and expertise with workplace misconduct to create a solution that could help everyone report and prevent misconduct. And because the only good outcome to #MeToo has to be #NotMe (no more victims), I decided to call my solution: #NotMe.
Q: Why now?
A: Because things have to change, and the power dynamic has to be altered. Our society is ready and in need for a major change, not only in behavior but also in approaches to the issue. #NotMe was born out of the cry for behavior change and a safe place for everyone, no matter their position of power, to report misconduct that happens anywhere, anytime. #MeToo is evidence that the way employers and employees have been dealing with misconduct does not work. It only works for the employment lawyers (on both the plaintiff and defense sides). I have seen this first hand, and I do not want my children to grow up in a society that brushes misconduct under the rug anymore. I feel a sense of responsibility to use my experience in employment law to bring forward a solution for all people and companies that ultimately will catch microaggressions early on and prevent situations from getting out of hand. Knowledge is power, and people need a safe, empowering way to report their stories in order to get the support they need.
Sexual harassment prevention trainings do not work. I am sure the Weinstein Company and ABC News were all compliant and had provided mandatory training to all of their employees. HR is not in a position to handle, in an equitable and fair manner, the issue of misconduct. I have worked for many years with HR people or people in employee relations. In fact, I was the guy they’d call to get advice when they needed to deal with employee related issues, including harassment. We cannot and should not expect HR to solve the misconduct crisis. It is not fair to them, not fair to the company nor its employees. HR cannot solve this rampant problem with the current tools that exist. Ultimately, misconduct is not an HR problem, it’s a people problem. So we’re here to put the power back in the people’s hands who are ready to speak up and say #NotMe! One thing that helped me in creating #NotMe was the understanding that many people find themselves in situations where they feel uneasy and they don’t know where to turn.
With #NotMe, I wanted to help employers and employees change their manners for approaching and dealing with misconduct. I wanted people (both management and employees) to benefit from my 13+ years of experience as an unconventional lawyer. It is worthwhile to note that companies get advice from employment lawyers on the management side daily, but lawyers are generally the worst people to give sound advice on how to deal with an employee issue or situation. They can advise you on the legal issues but most lawyers have never managed an employee. Lawyers in law firms know how to manage other lawyers. It is very different. I really believe that the approach used for the past 20+ years is flawed and that people are ready for a paradigm shift. #NotMe represents this positive shift to a safer place, and brings much needed change to the rampant problem of misconduct.
Q: Can you give us insights into the various features of the app?
A: #NotMe helps people, employees and companies become accountable, empowered and efficient so they can deal, in a mature manner, with the complex problem of misconduct.
It is time leaders understand that an internal report from an employee (through #NotMe or another source) is not a liability, but rather an opportunity.
Employees must start to report instances of misconduct (including micro-aggressions) as soon as they occur or are perceived, so that their employer can deal with them and course-correct before something more egregious follows. The first step in eliminating misconduct starts with reporting it.
Our app is very easy to use, and is free for any person wishing to download the app and report an issue independently. Reporting of an incident through #NotMe can be made in under 3 minutes. It is secure and safe. A reporter can report anonymously (or not) if they choose to do so. Our team has developed a smart and innovative product with great UI/UX.
A reporter is asked to answer a few questions in which we quickly collect information pertaining to what happened, where, when and whom is being reported. Reporters do not need to type very much to tell their stories. The #NotMe app guides them through the reporting, allowing them to select from various feelings and responses to make the process as simple and noninvasive as possible.
Once submitted, #NotMe reaches out to keep them updated on the process and what is happening with the status of their report. Once they report, they are no longer alone in what has happened to them, and they now have the support of our caring team to guide them through potential next steps to help stop the behavior and ensure their safety. #NotMe also contains a proprietary ‘Detective’ (our AI algorithm) that enables us to assess the severity and pervasiveness of every report received through #NotMe. We not only track misconduct but track its intensity. This is helpful for companies who subscribe to our larger platform to mitigate risk and get a solid picture of what is happening in the organization, so they can act on it to create a safe environment.
Our system holds organizations and their employees accountable and helps them show all stakeholders that they have a system in place to not only be compliant and socially responsible, but also that they take all matters of misconduct seriously, and look to eliminate and course-correct the micro-aggressions where issues begin.
Q: What are the company’s plans and goals for the future?
A: #NotMe’s goal is to become the #1 trusted, open reporting platform for an empowered generation of people; to change behavior, responsibly raise and report concerns, and make the world safer for everyone.