For the last several years, Uber has been a company synonymous with quick, somewhat cheap private transport, gaining so much popularity that it rivals taxi companies in the amount of users that it has. Now, however, its name is becoming increasing more tied to something outside of its service; blatant sexism that seems to be ingrained in the company culture, as well as many reported – an unreported – cases of sexual harassment at the company.
So far, the most high profile of these has been from Susan Fowler, a former engineer at the company who detailed a vast number of sexual assault allegations in a blog post, which ended up sparking the investigation into Uber. Now, it seems that the company’s CEO Travis Kalanick is stepping away from the company amid the growing scandal; the news comes mere days after an independent investigation from Attorney General Eric Holder recommended that changes to senior leadership are needed to mitigate the slew of scandals that have plagued the ride-hailing company over the past several months. In a statement about stepping away from Uber for the time being, Mr. Kalanick said:
“The ultimate responsibility, for where we’ve gotten and how we’ve gotten here rests on my shoulders. For Uber 2.0 to succeed there is nothing more important than dedicating my time to building out the leadership team. But if we are going to work on Uber 2.0, I also need to work on Travis 2.0 to become the leader that this company needs and that you deserve.”
Attorney General Holder’s report recommended a chief operating officer and an increase in Uber’s diversity efforts by regularly publishing diversity statistics and using blind resume reviews, for instance. Indeed, diversity was a word used often in the report, particularly with regards to management and a potential COO, which many critics took to mean that the company ought to hire more non-white, non-male employees, especially among leadership positions. As the report puts it:
“Some of the skills and experiences the Board should look for in a COO include: candidates with backgrounds in diversity and inclusion and candidates who are themselves diverse; candidates with experience dealing with organizations that have complicated labor and operational structures; and candidates with experience in improving institutional culture.”
For now, it looks as if the company won’t be able to escape the overly-masculine, sexist culture that seems to have been bred inside the company since its inception, and the PR nightmare doesn’t seem like it’ll end any time in the near future.