A Manchester-based technology business that has created a platform for people to confidentially and safely report workplace harassment has secured a £1.35m investment in a funding round led by Praetura Ventures, a VC firm which targets early stage businesses in high value sectors. GC Angels joined the round and invested £100,000.

Culture Shift was founded in 2018 following a string of stories about bullying and harassment in high-profile businesses across the UK.

It is led by Gemma McCall, CEO and a prominent commentator on workplace harassment, COO Stuart Bradley and CTO Carl Sadd.

The software is designed to empower those who are reluctant to report wrongdoing, by removing barriers to reporting, and ensuring they have a secure and confidential platform in which to do so. \

The software also allows victims or witnesses of harassment to access support for what they’ve experienced as well as giving organisations oversight of any worrying trends, helping them to tackle them.

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. It 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.

“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.”

As well as providing a confidential platform for reporting bullying and harassment, the software allows businesses to analyse data to identify trends that mean they can take appropriate action.

They can monitor any 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.

The deal was led by Praetura Ventures’ Louise Chapman, Myrto Lalacos and Pete Carway. Pete will join the Culture Shift board as a non-executive director.

Pete Carway said: “Culture Shift is an impressive start-up offering a way for companies to tackle a serious problem that is afflicting business and wider society, as well as attracting increasing media attention.

“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.”