Uber Technologies plans to outline diversity goals and publish the results of a sexual harassment investigation over the coming weeks, part of a commitment to fix its corporate culture.
A report on workforce demographics, which will be Uber’s first, is expected by the end of this month, Liane Hornsey, the company’s senior vice president for human resources, said on a conference call with reporters. Releasing such data has become common practice for technology companies in recent years.
Arianna Huffington, an Uber board member, said a probe into the company’s culture and harassment claims is likely to be completed by the end of next month. Huffington is helping oversee the inquiry process, along with Eric Holder, the former US attorney-general. She said there’s an “absolute commitment that the findings will be made public and that they will inform all the actions”.
Huffington said Uber will begin to improve its work environment by eliminating “brilliant jerks”, while Hornsey portrayed a problem with the “cult of the individual”. Hornsey said the San Francisco-based company is building processes and training employees to ensure that “the individual is never more important than the team — not ever”.
The ride-hailing company is in damage control after a horrendous three-month run of controversies. In January, the hashtag #DeleteUber trended on Twitter, in part a reaction to CEO Travis Kalanick’s association with US President Donald Trump. Then, in February, a former software engineer wrote a blog post alleging that her manager had propositioned her for sex and that the company’s HR department said they wouldn’t punish him.
After Bloomberg published a video of a confrontation in which Kalanick harshly dismissed an Uber driver’s concerns, the CEO said he would seek leadership help and hire a chief operating officer. Filling that role took on increased urgency after the resignation on Sunday of Jeff Jones, the president of ride sharing and the company’s second in command. During his six months at Uber, Jones sparred with Kalanick, advocating for the option of tipping inside the app and other requests from drivers.
On Tuesday’s call, Uber made overtures to drivers. Rachel Holt, the head of the company’s US ride-hailing business, said Uber would make changes to its app that should address some drivers’ concerns. She also highlighted the company’s performance, saying growth has continued to accelerate in the US this year.
Hornsey said the search for a COO is progressing and that Kalanick was interviewing candidates. Kalanick has sought advice from Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise’s Meg Whitman, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday. Kalanick didn’t participate in the conference call. Holt said at one point: “Everyone at Uber, including Travis, knows that we must change.”
But Huffington shot down any prospect of Kalanick stepping down: “The board has confidence in Travis, and we are proceeding ahead in the search for the COO.” — (c) 2017 Bloomberg LP