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Meet 2016 Forward under 40 Award recipient Tom Rausch ’04

Rausch’s journey took him from Stoughton, Wisconsin, to Madison, where the university introduced him to the world’s complexities.

February 29, 2016

UW Majors: History and Political Science
Age: 34 | Oakland, California
Cofounder and Director of Strategy and Innovation at Good World Solutions

Rausch’s journey took him from Stoughton, Wisconsin, to Madison, where the university introduced him to the world’s complexities. Workers in the developing world often do not have a secure channel to share complaints about workplace conditions. Good World Solutions seeks to solve that problem by harnessing the power of twenty-first-century technology. Thanks to Tom Rausch, the organization is on pace to reach 1 million workers by 2017.

“Our vision is for every worker — be it on a farm, factory, or workshop — to have a free and safe channel through which they can report their working conditions, opinions, and needs,” he says. “We’re in sixteen countries now, so [we have] plenty more work to do!”

Rausch’s journey took him from Stoughton, Wisconsin, to Madison, where the university introduced him to the world’s complexities.

“I started to see beyond myself, beyond my state, and, eventually, beyond my country to the immensity of the human condition,” he says. “It also unlocked a hunger to learn more.”

Rausch spent four years in East Africa working on projects to improve equity in agricultural supply chains. This work, coupled with his belief that technology is a force for improving the livelihoods of the most marginalized people, served as the foundation for his next project.

“I started to see beyond myself, beyond my state, and, eventually, beyond my country to the immensity of the human condition.”

Rausch cofounded Good World Solutions in 2011 and introduced Laborlink, the organization’s flagship product. It uses mobile phone surveys to collect opinions and workplace concerns from workers all around the world. Survey results enable Good World to provide clients with real-time analytics that illustrate how to invest in workers’ wellbeing and why it’s important to do so.

Good World Solutions deploys Laborlink in manufacturing and agricultural settings, working with many high-profile companies such as Walmart, Target, Cisco, and the Walt Disney Company. As a result, Laborlink has reached more than five hundred thousand workers across Asia, Europe, and South America, and it commonly delivers worker participation rates that far exceed those typically achieved during social audits — all while maintaining workers’ anonymity.

“I have spent the past decade trying to make our world a little bit smaller and a little bit fairer,” Rausch says. “Many people on our planet are voiceless, yet hold valuable insights. They are the ‘bottom billions’ few Americans think about. I’m lucky to live in a time when it is possible, through the global spread of mobile communications, to finally hear and share those voices.”

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