UBER – HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT
The resignation of Uber co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick this month is the latest black eye for the company. Kalanick was pressured to resign followed by a period of extraordinary turmoil at the company. Kalanick’s take-no-prisoners management style has left in its wake a long line of unhappy stakeholders: regulators, competitors, drivers, customers, some partners and many of the company’s employees.
The problem lies within the company’s damaged corporate culture, one that’s widely regarded as overly aggressive, sexist and insensitive. When new employees join Uber, they are asked to subscribe to 14 core company values that include bold bets and “always hustlin.” Interviews with current and former employees, as well as reviews of internal emails, chat logs and tape-recorded meetings, paint a picture of an often unrestrained workplace culture. As stated in the New York Times, examples include: “An Uber manager groped female co-workers’ breasts at a company retreat in Las Vegas. A director shouted a homophobic slur at a subordinate during a heated confrontation in a meeting. Another manager threatened to beat an underperforming employee’s head in with a baseball bat.” Current and former employees describe Uber as a Hobbesian environment, in which workers are sometimes pitted against one another and where a blind eye is turned where top performers are concerned.
Susan Fowler made the culture known through a published blog about her time at the company. Fowler was an engineer who left Uber in December. She detailed a history of discrimination and sexual harassment/gender discrimination by her managers, which was apparently shrugged off by Uber’s human resources department. Ms. Fowler confirmed that the culture was fostered by the top of the company.
As a result of the social media running rampant on the subject, an internal probe into sexual harassment at the company was initiated. Uber hired outside counsel, Perkin Coie who looked into 215 claims of inappropriate workplace incidents, including everything from bullying to sexual harassment. Uber took no action in 100 instances. Uber has since fired more than 20 employees and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has since, and not surprisingly, resigned.