Tragically losing a loved one has been hard for me and I need to properly say my goodbyes.
That was one of 47 remedial actions the board agreed to undertake following an internal report compiled by former US attorney general Eric Holder, who had been hired to investigate allegations of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation leveled by former Uber engineer Susan Fowler.
Former engineer Susan Fowler posted a blog in February that detailed harassment during the year she spent at Uber, writing that she was propositioned by her manager on her first day with an engineering team. However, Kalanick remains its most visible casualty as the company attempts to turn the corner on a terrible year.
The Holder report specifically recommends that “The Board should evaluate the extent to which some of the responsibilities that Mr. Kalanick has historically possessed should be shared or given outright to other members of senior management”.
Restoring employee trust in performance reviews by increasing transparency and setting specific targets. It also calls on the company to prohibit the consumption of alcohol during core work hours and to ban the use of controlled substances. Uber’s troubles over the past few months have attracted a lot of bad press and there are genuine concerns that the company might be on the verge of implosion and corrective measures became necessary. Beyond Kalanick’s temporary leave and the ongoing search for a COO, the company is also seeking a new president, a senior vice president, and a chief financial officer. That investigation, which was separate from Holder’s, checked into 215 complaints; 57 are still under investigation.
For the inquiry, Holder’s team conducted more than 200 interviews with current and former employees and read through 3 million documents.
Fowler was less than impressed by the recommendations, describing it in a tweet as “all optics”.
“Uber is a company without a COO, CFO, CMO and soon to be SVP of Business”, James Cakmak, an analyst with Monness, Crespi, Hardt & Co, wrote in an investor note Monday.
Fowler’s harrowing account of the sexism and harassment she said she experienced at the ride hailing company caused a backlash that resulted in as many as 500,000 account deletions. The Kapors had previously blasted the company’s culture.
“Uber should consider adopting a zero-tolerance policy for substantiated complaints of discrimination and harassment, without regard to whether an employee is a “high performer” or a long-term employee”, the recommendations stated. Michael’s name was mentioned alongside Kalanick in multiple scandals revealed recently. But there is a glaring problem with this plan: Uber’s bench of top executives is light – bordering on nonexistent.
Despite outside pressure, the decision to step aside or not likely rested with Kalanick.
Later Tuesday, a comment about women reportedly made by board member David Bonderman at an all-staff meeting drew outrage and reportedly has led to his resignation.
In is e-mail to Uber employees, he stated that the company needs a fresh beginning and if the fresh beginning has to be successful then Kalanick himself would need to reinvent himself. “I must fundamentally change as a leader and grow up”, he says. Externally Kalanick and his executive team have been blamed for creating a bro culture rife with misogyny. Kalanick said his goal for the COO role is to find “a peer who can partner with me to write the next chapter in our journey”.
CEO Travis Kalanick told employees he was taking an unspecified leave, during which he’ll work on his leadership skills.