How One Dallas Startup Hopes to Change the Solution to Workplace Harassment

A risk attorney turned startup founder, Jared Pope is on a mission to change the way workplace harassment is handled—by taking out the fear.

Jared Pope is on a mission to change the culture around workplace harassment.

Pope is the brains behind Work Shield, a third-party platform for employees to address any work-related issues. But, upon submitting a report, Work Shield independently conducts an investigation and recommends a solution—removing the employer and the fear from the process.

With a background as a risk attorney, Pope wanted to foster a culture of respect, inclusiveness, and diversity in the workplace. He says he wanted to help the employee, while also protecting the employer, to create something that was mutually beneficial.

So, around 14 months ago, Work Shield was born.

The Dallas-based company has an ERISA-qualified harassment prevention plan that is funded by the employer for a fixed fee of $2 an employee per month. The intent is to remedy any workplace harassment issues—in less than five days—through early detection and a simple, secure platform. In the wake of the #MeToo movement, Work Shield aims to assure employees they’re safe to speak up.

And Pope, who is also the CEO, has aggressive plans to do so.

The Work Shield team from left: Todd Kirby, Partner and Head of Technology; Jared Pope, CEO; Travis Foster, Partner and Corp. Compliance; and Brian Calhoun, Managing Partner of CBS. [Photo: Rebeca Posadas-Nava]

Over the next year Work Shield plans to focus on growth by adding new employers and employees to the platform. Pope says his team is scheduled to be onboarding and servicing over 40,000 employees.

“I’m most excited about our exponential growth, the positive social and financial impact we are making on workplace culture across the country, and how we basically took concepts from healthcare and benefits, applied it to the legal industry, and are now the leading force with an innovative approach to protecting employers and providing employees a respectful workplace for the common good of everyone,” he told Dallas Innovates. “I really enjoy helping others, and Work Shield allows me to help numerous employers and their thousands, if not millions, of employees.”

Pope’s wife, Jennifer, is a co-founder of Work Shield. [Photo: Courtesy Jared Pope]

Outside of the short-term growth, Pope says he and his team plan to roll out additional product services to the Work Shield Platform, along with mobile applications for employers and employees. The company is also a major sponsor of LEAP2019, a labor and employment conference for human resources and in-house counsel.

“We’re expecting a great turnout to educating employers how they can create a better workplace culture with Work Shield, as well as have us handle every issue of workplace harassment (which includes up to 11 forms of harassment, not just sexual harassment),” Pope says. “In other words, imagine a world where HR or in-house counsel could focus on strategy and everyday items, with any internal or workplace harassment issue totally outsourced for less than a cup of coffee.”

[Photo: Rebeca Posadas-Nava]

Recently, Work Shield has crafted an Advisory Board of experienced industry professionals that Pope says he trusts and respects: Nami Russom, human resources business partner at Google; Jennifer Saenz, SVP and CMO of Frito-Lay North America; Alvaro Saenz, CEO of MD Medical Group; Laurel Legler, SVP of human resources at Guaranteed Rates; and Tim Powers, managing partner of Haynes and Boone.

“Given the high level expertise and talent on our Board, I think it not only exemplifies our short- and long-term growth strategies, but allows Work Shield to tap into each individual for their advice, guidance, and experience, as well as apply such insight to our continued proliferation in the marketplace,” he says.

Alvaro Saenz—one-half of what Pope calls the “power couple of Dallas” with his wife, Jennifer—says he joined Work Shield because of its simple, yet effective way of creating an atmosphere of respect among colleagues and between managerial and employee levels.

Powers, among the rest of the Board members, agrees.

“I am excited about Work Shield’s opportunity to impact a very important and relevant topic—workplace harassment,” he says. “Their innovative approach of applying a benefits-focused model and formula via a capitated per-employee per-month rate to a legal and compliance platform makes it easy to understand why the company is experiencing significant growth in such a short amount of time.

“Work Shield proves that, oftentimes, the best solution is the simple one that everybody else missed or just didn’t notice.”

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