Uber’s misconduct practises harboured sexual harassment says report

Published: June 13, 2017

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones

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Uber grew to become a global mega brand very quickly. There was little time for the company to prepare for its rapid expansion towards a $50 billion plus valuation. It also seems there was little time for the company to get its house in order and lay down even the most basic practises to avoid sexual harassment and other poor behaviour.

A new expose means the company will be forced to change. Attorney General Eric Holder issued a 13-page document filled with recommendations on how to fix Uber. Indeed, the dossier is rather worrying for Uber, mainly because it paints the company as a breeding ground for workplace misconduct with little protection in place for employees.

Uber has regularly given the idea that it is a rouge company that wants to be legit. It was more than happy to expand its ride-sharing services around the globe, despite fierce opposition from governments. Instead of working with authorities (something the company is now starting to do), Uber was happy to operate unregulated and illegally.

The California-based technology firm has also been notoriously harsh on its drivers, failing to recognize them as full employees, basically denying them any privileges. Is it surprising that a company willing to grow from chaos failed to implement a system to combat in-work sexual harassment and misconduct?

One of the most interesting business stories of 2017 has been Uber’s chickens coming home to roost. The company is a loss-making juggernaut that dropped billions in revenue last year and will do so again this year. While investors remain on board, sooner or later, Uber needs to make money.

Drivers have started fighting back and are winning landmark court battles that give them much more power. Governments too have been more aggressive against Uber, and the company is needing to play ball and seek regulatory passages in many countries.

And finally, Holder’s document exposes Uber and forces the company to sort itself out. CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick says the board of directors is going to adopt the recommended changes from the Holder report. Indeed, he says the board voted unanimously for the change.

Kalanick is now putting a positive spin on the situation and says the recommendations allow Uber to evolve, into what he calls Uber 2.0.