Employment-focused tech firm Valla debuts 'Discrimination First Aider' training

Online legal platform Valla is launching what it says is the UK's first product designed to help people become "first responders" when they see or hear about racism, sexism, or other discrimination at work.

From left: Valla co-founders Danae Shell and Dr Kate Ho. Picture: contributed.
From left: Valla co-founders Danae Shell and Dr Kate Ho. Picture: contributed.

Edinburgh-based Valla says it helps workers to resolve employment issues by representing themselves, aiming to meet the growing demand for affordable legal services, and cuts the price of resolving employment issues by 90 per cent.

It says it has debuted the Discrimination First Aider training offering after founders Danae Shell and Dr Kate Ho realised, after conducting hundreds of interviews for the firm, that people often don't fight workplace discrimination because they don't have anyone to turn to in the critical first few days after an incident happens.

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The business cited data from TUC finding that more than half of women in the UK have experienced sexual harassment while at work, and 70 per cent of Black and Asian people have faced racial harassment in the workplace. Despite efforts to tackle these issues, discrimination cases have continued to increase, Valla also said.

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It added that inspired by the Mental Health First Aid programme, it has created Discrimination First Aid to help people “support their colleagues during an incredibly difficult time” – and the venture focuses on holding employers accountable after an incident has taken place.

The course trains first aiders in the basics of equality law, how to spot issues as they arise, and how to support someone going through workplace discrimination.

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Valla chief executive Ms Shell said: "I know from experience what it feels like to hear about shocking behaviour at work and not know how to help. We've created this training for everyone who has ever seen something go wrong at work and has felt helpless to stop it."

Ms Shell was recently part of a virtual trade mission to California, jointly led by AccelerateHER, which supports female business-founders and leaders, and Gwen Edwards, MD (Silicon Valley) of US-based Golden Seeds, an angel investor group that backs high-potential, women-led businesses.

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The Valla CEO and Dr Ho founded Valla after facing workplace discrimination themselves, and realising that standing up to an employer costs thousands of pounds in legal fees, something out of reach for many.

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