Uber's Travis Kalanick Announces Leave Of Absence; Company Adopts Harassment Policies

Toby Manning
June 14, 2017

Company employees are awaiting the findings of an internal investigation into corporate culture at Uber, prompted by a series of reports of sexual harassment.

But those looking for signs that Uber may not be willing to do the grueling work to recast itself don't need to hunt long for examples. The plan also calls for increasing diversity and establishing a version of the NFL's "Rooney Rule" that would require Uber to include at least one female and one minority candidate in hiring for jobs and to include a woman and/or a minority on hiring panels. While this approach helped the company grow, it's unclear if it can be sustainable in the long run. Valued at around $70 billion, it's one of the largest private companies in the world.

As part of the revamping at Uber, Nestle executive Wan Ling Martello was named as an independent board member, according to a source close to the company. But its reputation has suffered over the harassment reports, and the company has also faced challenges to its labor and competition practices, as well as a lawsuit from Google's parent company over its self-driving vehicle program.

Uber also announced recommendations Tuesday from a report by former U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., hired by Uber to address mounting criticism of the company amid a wave of scandals.

"Uber should utilize the Rooney Rule for women and other underrepresented populations for key positions, wherein each pool of candidates interviewed for each identified position includes at least one woman and one member of an underrepresented minority group, thereby ensuring that members of the populations now underrepresented in Uber's workplace are interviewed with appropriate consistency", the report states.

"Ha! Yeah, they'll never apologize", she tweeted. In an email to employees he wrote that he believes in "creating a workplace where a deep sense of justice underpins everything we do".

After weeks of mounting anticipation, Uber Technologies Inc.

Whether it stays there and welcomes top people in the industry into its fold remains reliant on whether it can indeed learn from its mistakes and push forward.

Again, Kalanick apologized and promised to change.

He revealed the decision in an email to employees on Tuesday. "This is the first time I've been willing to admit that I need leadership help and I intend to get it".

After Fowler posted her blog, Uber Technologies Inc. made changes in human resources and opened a 24-hour hotline for employees.

The San Francisco group parted ways this week with its number two executive, Emil Michael, who had been reportedly linked to a number of questionable practices at Uber including a visit to a South Korean escort-karaoke bar and an attempt to dig up embarrassing information on journalists. Last week, based on a report from a different law firm that investigated employee harassment, bullying and retaliation complaints, Uber fired 20 people and sent another 31 into counseling. Dozens more employees were placed in training or counseling.

By adopting all of Holder's recommendations, it appears Uber's board is serious about change.

The crisis was sparked by a February 19 blog post by former Uber software engineer Susan Fowler.

CNBC suggests that paramount among the firm's requests was to institute policies that would drastically change the culture at Uber.

"She was one of the calls to arms that helped alert the world to the awful dysfunction and unhinged environment that was going on in that company", Schiffer said. "She should be lionized for having the guts and the strength to step up and speak her truth".

Other reports by VgToday

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