Since its founding, Uber has faced accusations of mishandling or facilitating inappropriate sexual conduct on multiple occasions and lived to ride another day. Following reports of extensive harassment at the company by a former employee, however, its leaders are now racing to address concerns over potential sexual misconduct, discrimination, and general disarray.
On Saturday, author, engineer, and former Uber employee Susan Fowler published a blog post about her year working for the company, including numerous encounters with management and human resources personnel that are drawing questions about the startup's practices. Among other things, Fowler recalled being propositioned by her team manager on the first day of her assignment: "He was in an open relationship, he said, and his girlfriend was having an easy time finding new partners but he wasn't. He was trying to stay out of trouble at work, he said, but he couldn't help getting in trouble, because he was looking for women to have sex with."
She continued, "It was clear that he was trying to get me to have sex with him, and it was so clearly out of line that I immediately took screenshots of these chat messages and reported him to HR." From this point on, Fowler said, she repeatedly found herself confronted by HR representatives who refused to address or escalate complaints and who insisted her "high [performing]" manager's seemingly habitual harassment of female employees was always a "first offense.
Fowler went on, "Myself and a few of the women who had reported him in the past decided to all schedule meetings with HR to insist that something be done. In my meeting, the rep I spoke with told me that [the manager] had never been reported before, he had only ever committed one offense (in his chats with me), and that none of the other women who they met with had anything bad to say about him, so no further action could or would be taken," she said. "It was such a blatant lie that there was really nothing I could do. There was nothing any of us could do. We all gave up on Uber HR and our managers after that."
In a statement and series of tweets, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick responded to the alleged misconduct as described by Fowler, calling it "abhorrent" and "against everything Uber stands for and believes in." He also commented, "It's the first time this has come to my attention so I have instructed Liane Hornsey [sic] our new Chief Human Resources Officer to conduct an urgent investigation into these allegations."
As CNBC reports, Uber board member Arianna Huffington has also addressed the matter on Twitter. She told followers Sunday night that she plans to work directly with Hornsey, who took the post last month, in organizing a "full independent investigation."Read More...
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