Uber Appoints Former U.S. Attorney To Investigate Discrimination Claims

Uber Appoints Former U.S. Attorney To Investigate Discrimination Claims
j_nnesk_sser / Pixabay

Uber has appointed former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to lead an independent review into the claims of sexual harassment by a former software engineer, according to Bloomberg. On Monday in a memo to employees, CEO Travis Kalanick wrote that Aassociate General Counsel Angela Padilla, Human Resources Head Liane Hornsey and author and Huffington Post co-founder Arianna Huffington will participate in the investigation.

Fowler’s post highlights lack of diversity in Silicon Valley

In a blog post on Sunday, Susan Fowler said she was propositioned by her manager, and human resources ignored her reports. The accusation draws attention to the lack of diversity in Silicon Valley and ads to a series of accusations by women who say that they have been sidelined in the male-dominated industry.

Kalanick, who noted that 15% of Uber’s technology staff is women, said he believes in creating a workplace where a deep sense of justice underpins everything they do.

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“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,” he said.

Kalanick said the review will investigate the issues raised by Fowler and inclusion and diversity at Uber.  The review is a good beginning, said labor rights lawyer Y-Vonne Hutchinson. Hutchinson, however, questioned whether the review would be independent enough to sufficiently improve Uber’s culture.

Hutchinson, who founded the diversity solutions firm ReadySet, said, “This is only part of the problem with this company — I think quite often diversity and inclusion can be symptoms of a larger issue.”

Uber amidst a public-relations crisis

In her blog post, Fowler alleged that her manager at Uber sent her messages over the internal chat service and said that he was in an open relationship. Fowler’s post starts with her joining the online transportation company in November 2015 and claims that there were many instances of human resource representatives and managers acting poorly. In her 3,000-word blog post, she detailed what she described as “a very, very strange year at Uber.”

This issue of gender discrimination erupted just when another public relations issue was beginning to cool down, notes Bloomberg. The ride-hailing service has faced allegations that it assisted in breaking a New York taxi union strike that was protesting President Donald Trump’s refugee ban. Following this, the #deleteuber hashtag was seen trending on Twitter, and in an attempt to quiet the backlash, Kalanick left Trump’s advisory board.

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