Manchester-based Culture Shift snaps up €1.4 million to combat workplace abuse

Culture Shift team

UK startup Culture shift, a platform for people to confidentially and safely report workplace harassment, has secured around €1.48 million in a funding round led by Praetura Ventures, alongside GC Angels who invested approximately €115K of the funds.

Culture Shift was founded in 2018 following a string of stories about bullying and harassment in high-profile businesses across the UK. Its software empowers employees, by providing a secure and confidential way to report abuse. Victims or witnesses of harassment can also access support for what they’ve experienced.

The company, led by Gemma McCall, chief executive and a prominent commentator on workplace harassment, CEO Stuart Bradley and CTO Carl Sadd, also offers services for companies. As well as providing a confidential platform for reporting bullying and harassment, the software allows businesses to analyse data to identify trends of worrying behaviour and intervene early with communications or specific training. This helps businesses to better support their employees, which, in turn, reduces the cost of workplace bullying-based absenteeism, staff turnover and whistleblowing related costs.

Culture Shift state that only a fraction of incidents are reported or acted upon by employers, and that workplace bullying is estimated to cost the UK economy around €19.8 billion a year in absenteeism, staff turnover and lost productivity.

Praetura Ventures’ funding, and the support of its team, will help Culture Shift to develop its proprietary software and accelerate its rollout to business customers, with a focus on FTSE 350 and heavily-regulated sectors.

Culture Shift currently has more than 50 customers, mostly in the higher education sector, and is now set to target the professional services sector, which has endured a series of workplace scandals.

Gemma McCall said: “Recent high-profile events concerning bullying and harassment have ignited a long-overdue public debate about how we behave towards each other, both in society and, more specifically, in the workplace. This heightened awareness of the issue, along with the clear signal from the public, regulatory bodies, and the courts, has empowered people – both women and men – to report abuse and seek support. Though this progress is encouraging, a lack of confidence in employers’ processes for reporting bullying and harassment is still a barrier for many victims of such behaviour to come forward. Culture Shift are proud to be both leading that debate and offering a real solution to help overcome that barrier through our innovative, trusted software.”

The investment in Culture Shift is Praetura Ventures’ fourth from its Praetura EIS 2020 Fund, which closed in January. The deal was led by Praetura Ventures’ Louise Chapman, Myrto Lalacos, and also Pete Carway who will join the Culture Shift board as a non-executive director.

Pete Carway said: “Culture Shift is an impressive startup offering a way for companies to tackle a serious problem that is afflicting business and wider society, as well as attracting increasing media attention. Gemma, Stuart and Carl are passionate about empowering people and giving them the confidence and tools to report abuse, as well as providing firms with the platform to show they are taking the issues seriously. With our investment, Culture Shift will be able to take its platform beyond its current core market of universities to professional services firms and SMEs, which we know remain behind the curve in proactively combating the issue of bullying and harassment.”

Jessica Jackson, investor director at GC Angels, who provide early-stage market funding for Greater Manchester businesses, said: “GC Angels are pleased to be investing alongside Praetura Ventures into this fantastic business, who are building a market-leading product with a strong social purpose.”