During an Uber board meeting, member David Bonderman cracked a sexist joke while they were discussing sexism.
Board member Arianna Huffington was referring to her intentions of increasing diversity in the company’s directive.
“There’s a lot of data that shows when there’s one woman on the board, it’s much more likely that there will be a second woman on the board,” she said.
Uber is contaminated with sexism
“Actually what it shows is it’s much likely to be more talking,” responded Bonderman.
The joke was met with an awkward silence, alongside an “Oh, come on, David” from Huffington. After the meeting, Uber issued an apology on behalf of Bonderman:
“I want to apologize to my fellow board member for a disrespectful comment that was directed at her during today’s discussion. It was inappropriate. I also want to apologize to all Uber employees who were offended by the remark. I deeply regret it.”
The joke could not have been more out of place. Right now, Uber is under heavy criticism due to its testosterone-fueled work ethic and the many complaints referring to sexism inside the company. All spiced up by the claims that the company is using technology stolen from Google.
Uber is valued at $69 billion, and its growing success has become the least of its concerns. The latest cascade of scandals has put the company in the spotlight when it comes to corporate mismanagement. This, added to the loss of his mother, resulted in CEO Travis Kalanick leaving the company for a while.
“Recent events have brought home for me that people are more important than work, and that I need to take some time off of the day-to-day to grieve my mother, whom I buried on Friday, to reflect, to work on myself, and to focus on building out a world-class leadership team,” he wrote in a memo explaining his leave.
Bonnie Kalanick died in a boating accident in less than a month, while his father remains in critical condition.
The responsibilities held by Kalanick will be shared or given to other members of senior management, with the Chief Operating Officer taking leadership for the time being. Each department will be divided, with Liane Hornsey at the head of the human resources department.
How to help a company and its culture
Recently, law firm Covington & Burling released a list of recommendations directed at Uber to help it fix its inner workings to avoid future complications concerning sexual harassment. The board of directors has pledged to make use of the recommendations, which were deduced after the firm interviewed over 200 former and current employees. The report also focuses on the how the upcoming COO should tackle each recommendation.
The list includes reformulating Uber’s 14 written cultural values to reflect inclusive and positive behaviors. To achieve this, the company should emphasize teamwork and mutual respect, and incorporate diversity and inclusiveness as the main pillars of its inner culture. They also recommend getting rid of values that “justify poor behavior,” such as “Let Builders Build, Always Be Hustlin,” Meritocracy and Toe-Stepping, and Principled Confrontation.” There’s also an emphasis on senior workers to be the example when it comes to what values should employees follow.
Management and executive members of Uber will have to receive leadership coaching from a consultant that’s respected in the field of inclusive leadership. The same principle will be applied in the field of human resources and overall management.
Another interesting recommendation is that Uber should now provide “a robust and efficient complaint process” to positively identify factors contributing to discrimination and harassment. As expected, each complaint should be tracked and dealt with promptly in a way that employees do not fear complaining about their colleagues’ inappropriate behavior.
One of the most famous controversies at Uber is the case of Susan Fowler, who reflected on her experience working at Uber during its worst years of macho culture.
On her website, Fowler described how she was messaged by her manager who was looking for a sexual encounter. She took screenshots of the messages and handed them to Human Resources. They told her that it was the manager’s first offense and that he would be given a warning. Fowler kept working in her position, even if one of the HR officers told her that the manager would be right in retaliating by giving her a poor performance review.
She left the team and then met other women working at Uber. Fowler got to know their stories, and some even had the same problems with the same manager she reported. Eventually, he was reported once again and was protected by HR arguing that it was another “first offense.”
Fowler also wrote about how managers would fight to have each other’s jobs, boasting about it during meetings and blatantly saying that they were trying to hurt their coworkers.
Source: Yahoo! Finance