When a female former-Uber engineer posted to a blog about her experience with sexual harassment, the front office took notice. When she said management had failed to respond appropriately, the company knew it had to act.
After all, the company has been in the middle of a public relations nightmare. Not only do some taxi operators oppose Uber’s entire business model, but drivers across the U.S. have sought legal redress, claiming they are misclassified as independent contractors. Other drivers have alleged wage theft under Uber’s commission structure.
The company is also facing a disruptive lawsuit by competitor Waymo, which claims Uber benefited from trade secrets pilfered from Waymo’s self-driving car program. Uber is also dealing with criminal allegations that it used technology called “Greyball” to mislead regulators.
With all that going on, Uber couldn’t afford another public misstep. In February, it brought in a private law firm to investigate the sexual harassment complaint and other employee concerns. Interesting side note: The firm they hired employs former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
Investigation report recommended reining in executive suite. According to Reuters, insiders have previously noted that much of the company’s culture and personnel practices have been defined by the “brash” approach of Chief Executive Travis Kalanick.
It seems that Uber may have grown too quickly for its internal health. It is currently the world’s largest venture-capital-backed concern, employing 12,000 people. According to a Reuters source, part of what the report recommends is to place greater controls on HR and the executive suite. Executives at Uber have retained a surprising amount of autonomous authority for such a large company, sources said.
The full report was expected to be rolled out to employees today. One investor opined that this will give the company an “opportunity to reboot.”