Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick has taken quick action to address allegations of sexism and harassment at the ride-hailing company. Susan Fowler, hired as a reliability engineer at Uber in November 2015, recently penned a blog post describing the company’s culture of rampant sexual harassment. In a memo to employees obtained by Recode, Kalanick explained what he plans to do to finally address the issue.
First, Kalanick hired former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to conduct an independent investigation of the claims raised by Fowler, which included human resources failing to take action against repeated reports of sexual harassment from a male manager. Uber board member Arianna Huffington, Liane Hornsey (Uber’s new chief HR officer), and Angela Padilla, the company’s associate general counsel, will also be involved in the review process. Huffington and Hornsey will also meet directly, and in small groups with employees.
Second, following in the footsteps of other tech companies such as Apple and Facebook, Uber will begin publicly disclosing its diversity numbers. According to Kalanick’s memo, among engineering, product management, and science roles, 18 percent of Google’s employees are women, Facebook is at 17 percent, and Twitter is at 10 percent. Uber sits at 15.1 percent with regards to female employees in those positions, and will work to improve that number.
However, it may take some work to get there. Fowler’s experiences don’t appear to be isolated: According to reviews on Glassdoor, at least eight other current or former employees also discuss the sexist culture at Uber, as well as HR’s inability to provide any sort of meaningful resolution to reported situations. In the past, Uber has also run some decidedly sexist promotions (namely, a blog post that asked, “Who said women don’t know how to drive?”) that were later deleted.
In the face of this recent bout of bad publicity, the company is at least working on it.
“What is driving me through all this is a determination that we take what’s happened as an opportunity to heal wounds of the past and set a new standard for justice in the workplace,” Kalanick writes in his note.