Published: Wed, June 14, 2017
Entertaiment | By Lawrence Myers

Uber CEO to Take Leave, Diminished Role after Workplace Scandals


At a staff meeting, the company explained the results of an inquiry conducted by Eric Holder, the former US attorney general who Uber hired to look into allegations of harassment, discrimination and an aggressive culture.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick finally bowed to pressure to take a leave of absence on Tuesday as a sexual harassment investigation in to the company returned a list of 13 recommendations to improve workplace conditions.

The shakeup has already prompted departures from several top executives at the company, and Uber has fired at least 20 employees since beginning a separate internal investigation with law firm Perkins and Coie into other forms of harassment and discrimination.

In February, Susan Fowler, an ex-employee of the startup, accused the company's human resources team of ignoring numerous complaints of sexual harassment filed by women in the company.

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Instead, Uber should "adopt values that are more inclusive and contribute to a collaborative environment, including emphasizing teamwork and mutual respect, and incorporating diversity and inclusiveness as a key cultural value, not just as an end in itself, but as a fundamental aspect of doing good business", the report said.

"Implementing these recommendations will improve our culture, promote fairness and accountability, and establish processes and systems to ensure the mistakes of the past will not be repeated", wrote Liane Hornsey, Uber's chief human resources officer.

Uber's board said it would review Kalanick's responsibilities and reassign some to others. The report also recommended two measures to check Mr Kalanick's powers: more independent board sets and a new chief operating officer role.

At a company staff meeting, another Uber board member, Arianna Huffington, remarked that having one woman on a board often leads to more women joining a board, multiple media reports noted. Uber's board unanimously accepted those suggestions.

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In his email written to all Uber employees, Kalanick has highlighted the importance of family and people.

He also needs time to grieve for his mother, who died in a boating accident last month. The leave is necessary, the 40-year-old co-founder of the ride-hailing company said, "to become the leader that this company needs". Those moves came last week, after an outside firm was hired to investigate more than 200 misconduct claims against the company, as NPR's Yuki Noguchi reported. The Kapors had previously blasted the company's culture.

Kalanick lost his temper earlier this year in an argument with an Uber driver who was complaining about pay, and Kalanick's profanity-laced comments were caught in a video that went viral. It could also be that leadership is losing faith in his ability to pivot the company. Apparently because of distrust of some leaders, Holder recommended that care be taken to make sure the executive "is viewed positively by the employees". Kalanick shared the news with members of Uber staff today, according to Bloomberg report.

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