In February, Susan Fowler, a former Uber engineer, posted a blog about how she was a victim of sexual harassment, gender bias, and retaliation during her time with the ride-sharing company. The then-CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanick, hired former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and his law firm to dive deep into Uber’s company culture and investigate these allegations. The full report produced by Holder and his team of investigators was released to the public just last month, and it includes a number of recommendations for improving the workplace.
The report urged Uber to make certain changes to their senior leadership structure. Investigators found that now-resigned CEO Travis Kalanick had too many responsibilities, many of which should have been delegated to a Chief Operating Officer. The report also suggested the hiring of a Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, who would report directly to the COO or CEO and be responsible for creating a company culture that is open and welcoming to all employees.
Investigators also found problems with the way Uber handled employee complaints. The report outlines how Uber should focus on responding quickly to employee complaints and invest in new tools that allow them to track the status of all cases. This system should give senior leaders the power to see if there are multiple complaints made against any one employee, which would be cause for concern.
In addition, investigators would ideally like to see Uber communicate more openly with their employees about who to complain to when they feel their rights are being violated. According to investigators, Uber needs to encourage employees to step forward when something is not right instead of staying silent out of fear of retaliation.
The report also advised Uber to rewrite their cultural values to reflect a more inclusive and positive work environment. Investigators concluded that the way the values are currently written could be misinterpreted by employees or used to justify poor behavior. For example, the corporate values of “always be hustlin’,” “meritocracy and toe-stepping,” and “principled confrontation,” encouraged employees to look out for their own best interests instead of working together as a team.
Uber’s Board of Directors quickly began a review of the report and agreed to implement all of the recommendation just days later. Of course, only time will tell whether this company is ready to shed their old image and adopt a new, more positive company culture.
Uber may be in the headlines right now, but they are far from the only company who violates federal and state discrimination and harassment laws. If you’re a victim of discrimination or harassment in the workplace, please call Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. today at 918-582-2500, or toll free at (800) 722-8880, or contact us online for a free consultation with an experienced attorney.