Former Uber engineer alleges sexist abuse in workplace, CEO Travis Kalanick responds


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/02/19/former-uber-engineer-alleges-s.html


#2

Uber really is living down to all of the stereotypes you would expect of a company named after Ayn Rand’s ideology.


#3

Well now, since she apparently had a few emails with HR about this it should be a quick process to review the incident and fire the ass hats who screwed this up. Emails deleted due to automated clean-up? Back-ups bitches. If heads don’t roll then it’s pretty clear that Uber doesn’t have it’s shit together and probably needs a time out while it figures out how to put it’s big-boy pants on.


#4

Nothing says effective HR investigation like “Trending” on social media. Perhaps having a proper employer / employee… oh wait…


#5

Never mind the proper channels; if you’re facing shit like this, just tweet it.


#6

I’d heard of allegations of sexual harassment within that company going back at least a year or two; so when I decided to install a ride sharing app, I went with Lyft.

Not that they aren’t ‘corporate evil’ as well, but at least they still care enough to project a good facade.


#7

well guess I’ll be getting rid of my Uber driver app then. Lyft all the time.


#8

And there’s also this:

Uber are root-and-branch slimeballs. The sooner they die, the better.

OTOH, at least they provided the setup for the headline of the year:

:slight_smile:


#9

Kalanick’s response is exactly what it should be, but Uber has got a long way to go to prove they actually are the kind of upstanding company they want to be perceived as. From the early days of rampant employee abuse of personal user data and misdeeds by execs (including Kalanick), to their attempts to skirt regulations and the law, and their ongoing labor trouble, this is not a company that has shown itself to be trustworthy.


#10

My wife has (less flagrant) experiences with HR apathy, and I know many people that have as well. Most companies are set up so there is a single point of failure chain for HR investigations for an individual, and it only takes one person to dismiss it or just shuffling paperwork or simply be a bad employee. It’s a consistent problem at companies of all sizes.


#11

I’m shocked that the company that brought us a “Rides of Glory” might have a bit of a culture problem; even under the magisterial guidance of the technology industry’s most punchable(and that’s an honor that takes some earning) CEbrO.

It came up on Boingboing at the time; and archive.org has the page, since they of course backpeddled with some pusillanimous non-apology once the PR started to look bad.

And then there was the whole ‘god view’ thing. Quality people.


#12

It’s certainly possible that some companies are shaking their well-intentioned heads in genuine bafflement about why HR isn’t better at weeding out the bad apples; but I’m inclined to suspect that a rather brittle process is considered more of a feature than a bug in many cases.

If you are drawing lawsuits and bad press, or protecting low performing sleazebags at the expense of the employees you actually want to keep; even neutral-evil management would agree that HR isn’t doing its job; but if they can provide enough veneer of ‘process’ to smooth things over, along with Internal Affairs grade case-burying capabilities; you can avoid both blatantly undeniable violations and actually doing much of anything.


#13

I disagree with the premise of this article, this quote from it stuck with me, and seems quite appropriate here-

The pro-woman power elite peers deeply into the savage inequalities of American life and asks, in essence, “Where’s my half of the profits?”


#14

When I asked our director at an org all-hands about what was being done about the dwindling numbers of women in the org compared to the rest of the company, his reply was, in a nutshell, that the women of Uber just needed to step up and be better engineers.

Please quote this when people ask why women leave tech jobs. it’s all our fault!


#15

I’ve never worked anywhere that I’d trust anyone from HR further than I could throw them.


#16

Most companies that I know of have a policy to delete all emails after 90 days and direct employees to do the same.

That said, I would expect that HR communications and files would be exempt from this. The guy who harrased her should have a big ol’ file documenting all of this in HR.


#17

I have, once.

But to be fair, that HR guy was a weedy, tiny slip of a guy. I reckon that if the wind was right, I could get some pretty impressive distance.


#18

one of the companies i worked for had HR on the 18th floor…


#19

How do I get in on the HR racket? It seems to be the best place to be incompetent, yet keep a high paying job.

Also, this is less about Uber and probably more about status quo. That is, it’s happening all over.

Ex-wifes gov job took FOREVER to START the process to get rid of a sexual predator. Like, “Oops, I only booked one room on this business trip, well you can stay in my room, I got two beds.” sort of thing. Took over a year on paid leave to make it a real thing.


#20

Or the one-size-fits-all corporate HR structure has evolved semi-naturally across decades and industries to promote itself at the cost of employees. An HR executive wants to prove that they run a cheap and efficient department and any crap would never been shown to their peers or superiors in the organization. That doesn’t mean the one HR executive is reviewing each case and throwing them out, but it does mean that like most job markets the people expected to make waves are understaffed and underpaid to prop up executive pay and benefits and are under constant threat of downsizing while benefits beyond pay and healthcare are performance based. It leads to situations where an employee simply doesn’t act because they are busy (and for whatever reason they didn’t drop things immediately to act) only to realize that it has been a few weeks and they let this abuse go unreported, and if they brought it up to their manager they would get a black mark against them. It’s most likely a typical corporate hierarchy (executives get passed around and they just do the same thing over and over again) combined with disincentivizing acting on mistakes, resource issues, and the general selfishness of a single employee - and any investigation will pick out the employee and get rid of that single problem and not address anything else (or worse, they bring in consultants).

My HR experiences in the four different industries I have worked have been identical, from retail store grunt through white collar engineer. The only time HR has functioned well has been when the company is small enough a single passionate person gets the job done. The more people in that linear hierarchy from employee submitting a complaint to the manager overseeing complaints are heard and acted on, the more likely it gets shuffled away for a large number of reasons. Since HR by nature is very difficult to track the performance of, there’s no good way to easily fix the bureaucracy compared to a call-in support service.