Uber’s top management somehow cannot keep their sexist side hidden, and a recent board meeting was the latest evidence of that. The irony of the whole matter is that the board meeting took place with the objective of addressing the issue of the sexist culture that prevails at the company.
Sexist culture not leaving Uber
During the meeting, board member Arianna Huffington announced that Wan Ling Mortello would join the board. The news was applauded by the other members, as Mortello’s entry increases the representation of women on the company’s board from 14% to 25%.
Huffington also stated, “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.”
The situation turned awkward after another board member, David Bonderman, commented, “Actually, what it shows is that it’s much more likely to be more talking.”
To this, Huffington laughed, and the rest of the board members remained in a state of shock, according to an audio recording of the meeting obtained by Yahoo Finance. Thereafter, the board continued to review the 13-page document that was on the agenda. It stated recommendations for ensuring Uber executives’ accountability for their actions and increasing the role of the board.
After employees questioned Bonderman’s comment, he issued a statement saying that his comment was “careless, inappropriate and inexcusable.”
“I do not want my comments to create distraction as Uber works to build a culture of which we can be proud,” Bonderman said. “I need to hold myself to the same standards that we’re asking Uber to adopt. Therefore, I have decided to resign from Uber’s board of directors, effective tomorrow morning.”
Bonderman, a partner at private equity firm TPG, also resigned from Uber’s board. Huffington later issued a statement saying that he made the right decision at a time when Uber is trying to find its way and make some critical culture changes.
Kalanick on indefinite leave
On Tuesday, CEO Travis Kalanick also announced that he is taking an indefinite leave of absence from the company to grieve the death of his mother. In an email to employees, Kalanick stated that for Uber 2.0, there is nothing as important as setting up a leadership team. For this to happen, according to Kalanick, he also needs to work on Travis 2.0 to become the leader the company needs and deserves.
On Monday, Kalanick’s close aide and number two at Uber, Emil Michael, also announced his resignation. Both Kalanick and Michael have been involved in multiple scandals. In 2014, it was reported that Michael and Kalanick visited an escort bar in South Korea with other Uber employees. Michael is the same person who reportedly viewed the medical records of the woman who was raped by an Uber driver in New Delhi, notes CNN.
The sexist culture at Uber first came to light when a former employee talked about the harassment she faced at the company. Following her public complaint, the company hired two external attorneys to investigate the work culture at Uber and offer solutions: former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Tammy Albarran, both of whom are partners at the law firm Covington & Burling.