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Organise: how our network is changing work

Author: Nat Whalley

Organise, an online platform that helps people improve their life at work, received a Trust for London grant in December 2017.

I got the idea for Organise when a friend of mine was made redundant just after she’d become pregnant. It’s something that still happens to 54,000 women in the UK each year even though it’s illegal. We teamed up and started to draft a crowdfunder to pay her legal fees to challenge the decision. The threat of this crowdfunder not only got her job back, but 5 months full paid maternity leave. This made me see the potential for people to work together to win better rights and benefits at work by standing together using online tools.

We’re now almost two years old as an organisation, and our community of people campaigning for change inside their workplaces is 50,000 strong. Our community run petitions and surveys, building networks of colleagues pushing for change. Our biggest campaign to date began after a few Ted Baker staff took part in an Organise wide survey on harassment at work. Our technology flagged similar answers, and through teamwork amongst Ted Baker staff, we soon had 25 current and former staff sharing their experiences. These formed the foundation of a campaign that would engage thousands of people, trigger a nationwide debate about workplace harassment and result in an independent, external investigation into the allegations of harassment at the company. Staff had allegedly suffered for years under an all-powerful boss - and it's through teamwork and Organise technology that they've finally been able to call out the behaviour they are uncomfortable with. In the days following the launch of their campaign, Ted Baker's share price crashed by 25% and the CEO stepped down while an external law firm runs the investigation. He has now resigned from his position. It's a powerful show of what the Organise community can do.

I'm really impressed at how much traction this has gained. I've been talking about this for years! Amazing to see real action being taken, independent of 'official' workplace channels.

Ted Baker employee

Even better, the Ted Baker campaign was featured in every major UK newspaper and on every TV channel. This high-profile coverage has brought dozens more reports of harassment to our platform. One of those is about the company UNiDAYS. Similarly to the Ted Baker campaign, this was a campaign started by a group of former staff who had allegedly suffered bullying and harassment under their CEO. They chose to launch their campaign just before Christmas, winning an independent investigation into the allegations. This campaign was covered on the BBC and in national newspapers including The Times and The Daily Mail. Again the power of the data collected and the network built through our survey tool gives these staff-led petitions a strong foundation.

Our members are already having a real national impact. They helped Amazon warehouse staff trigger safety inspections across the country via their local authorities. Our campaign to introduce a law to give 10 days paid leave from work for domestic abuse victims is also gathering pace and our community is crowdfunding a law that would introduce this important new right. And an MP is planning to add that law as an amendment into the upcoming Domestic Abuse Bill. Having this law in place doesn’t cost the employer much, and it can make the difference between being able to leave an abusive relationship and not. Many people find it difficult to keep their jobs while trying to move house, attend court dates, and settle their children at a new school. A minimum of 10 days paid leave to leave an abusive situation can literally be a lifesaver.

Every one of our campaigns is driven by our community, written by people who are directly experiencing these problems and setting the strategy to win change themselves. This is because no-one knows the ins and outs of their workplace better than the people working there. It’s what gives our community power - the network of people who know what needs to change and the tools to help them team up and make work right. I can’t wait to see what the rest of 2019 brings.

Find out more about Organise and the work they do on their website.