The ride-sharing tech conglomerate Uber is serious about cracking down on claims of sexual harassment and a lack of diversity hiring. The company is not serious enough, however, to hire someone to conduct an investigation with more credibility than former U.S. Attorney General Eric (“My People”) Holder.
The move was occasioned by an incredibly creepy account by former Uber engineer Susan J. Fowler, describing a manager’s salacious behavior and the subsequent unfair treatment after reporting the alleged misconduct.
Other people who are helping in this mission to restore social justice, rather than correct a serious problem, are Arianna Huffington, the co-founder of the eponymous media outlet Huffington Pos; Liane Hornsey, Uber’s chief human resources officer; and Angela Padilla, the company’s associate general counsel, according to Reuters. Huffington joined Uber’s board of directors last year.
Company founder Travis Kalanick sent a memo out to Uber employees Monday detailing the steps he is taking to address the allegations made by Fowler. Acccording to a memo obtained by Mike Isaac of The New York Times, Kalanick wrote:
It’s been a tough 24 hours. I know the company is hurting, and understand everyone has been waiting for more information on where things stand and what actions we are going to take. Arianna and Liane will also be doing smaller group and one-one-one listening sessions to get your feedback directly.
Kalanick did not specifically bring up the sexual harassment allegations. He said that Holder and his associate Tammy Albarran, both partners at the law firm Covington & Burling, “will conduct an independent review into the specific issues relating to the work place environment raised by Susan Fowler, as well as diversity and inclusion at Uber more broadly.”
Kalanick then went on to cite statistics pertaining to female shares of the workforce in engineering, product management, and scientist roles for not only Uber, but other tech companies. He claimed that Twitter, Facebook and Google, report female workforces of 10%, 17%, and 18% respectively, while his own company reports 15.1% and that “this has not changed substantively in the last year.”
“When I joined Uber, the organization I was part of was over 25% women. By the time I was trying to transfer to another eng[ineer] organization, this number had dropped down to less than 6%,” and then 3% on the final day of work, Fowler wrote.
Several tech companies have been adamantly trying to diversify their workforce, but are failing to meet their own standards. Quotas for female and minority hires (sometimes excluding Asian men) were set higher than what the companies ultimately reached.
“I believe in creating a workplace where a deep sense of justice underpins everything we do. Every Uber employee should be proud of the culture we have and what we will build together over time,” Kalanick continued in his memo, according to Reuters. “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.”
Holder was hired last year by Airbnb, an online network for lodging, to assist in formulating a policy to combat, what the company saw, as discrimination within its platform.
A former employee has accused Uber of disturbing behavior before, filing a lawsuit against the company in October, alleging the company tracks “high profile politicians, celebrities, and even personal acquaintances of Uber employees, including ex-boyfriends/girlfriends, and ex-spouses.”
This report, by Eric Lieberman, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.