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Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. (REUTERS/Shu Zhang)

Time for a change

Women are underrepresented at Uber, company’s diversity report shows

By WITW Staff on March 28, 2017

Uber, the world’s valuable startup lately has also seemed like the world’s most scandal-ridden startup. Sexual harassment issues have been popping up one after another in recent weeks, and last week a Silicon Valley software engineer that was being recruited by Uber reported that an HR manager went so far as to tell her that “sexism is systemic in tech” and suggested that such indiscretions can be overlooked.

Amid the flurry of scandals, Uber executives have gone into active damage control mode. Part of that effort has been an apology campaign, and another part has involved hiring former Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate sexual harassment claims. One other aspect of trying to repair its tattered public image is an internal examination of the makeup of its workforce. The company released the results of that examination on Tuesday in a report titled “How do we want Uber to look and feel?” The figures Uber reported showed that women are underrepresented within the company’s ranks, and so are non-white employees.

Just 36 percent of U.S. employees at Uber are women. Meanwhile, an overwhelming 85 percent of the tech jobs there are occupied by men. In the U.S., 50 percent of Uber’s employees are white and 31 percent are Asian. Just nine percent are black and six percent are Hispanic.

Travis Kalanick, the company’s CEO, who was a source of one of Uber’s recent public scandals, has resisted publicly releasing the company’s diversity numbers, but in a statement on Tuesday acknowledged that doing so was past due. “I know that we have been too slow in publishing our numbers — and that the best way to demonstrate our commitment to change is through transparency. And to make progress, it’s important we measure what matters.”

Uber also pledged to change its aggressive corporate culture, which critics say manifests itself in what can be a hostile workplace.

“Every strength, in excess, is a weakness,” Liane Hornsey, the company’s chief human resources officer, told The New York Times. “What has driven Uber to immense success — its aggression, the hard-charging attitude — has toppled over. And it needs to be shaved back.”

Read the full story at The New York Times.


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