Uber’s sexism problem, distilled into 15 words
Uber is making sweeping changes at the company after an external investigation by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder confirmed what many already knew—the company has a serious culture problem.
These changes–all approved by the board of directors —include dismissing Emil Michael, former senior vice president of business, and lessening the responsibilities of CEO Travis Kalanick, who is now on a leave of absence.
But perhaps the people who remain at Uber are still, in part, to blame.
Audio from Tuesday’s all-hands meeting, leaked to Yahoo Finance, revealed a cringe-worthy exchange between Uber board members Arianna Huffington and David Bonderman.
It seems that Bonderman thought it was funny to joke about women being in a board room and talking too much… at a meeting addressing a report about serious sexism problems at the company…. during a discussion about the need for more gender diversity among the company’s leadership.
Huffington, who has taken a leadership role for the investigation, laughed off the sexist joke from Bonderman, according to the audio.
Sounds like it’ll take a little bit more to laugh off that sexual harassment problem, eh?
Bonderman issued an apology. “I want to apologize to my fellow board member for a disrespectful comment that was directed at her during today’s discussion. I was inappropriate. I also want to apologize to all Uber employees who were offended by the remark. I deeply regret it,” he said in a statement emailed to all Uber employees.
In case you didn’t think that was bad enough, Liane Hornsey, chief human resources officer, made a joke about drinking. The report noted that the company needs to address alcohol consumption during work hours.
“I read yesterday if I say bloody, you all have to take a shot,” Hornsey said, shortly after saying that word. She seemingly laughs nervously and then adds, “But only after hours. Sorry.”
The last line of the more than 40-minute meeting was a stern recommendation to stay at the company, with several uses of the word bloody.
“I know you’re polishing your resumes,” Hornsey said. “I want to finish today by saying, put your bloody, put your resumes down, put your bloody phone down, that’s four shots, on the recruiters. And join with me to make this company everything it needs to be.”