Uber CEO on federal probe: ‘Sometimes it takes a punch in the face’

Uber’s top executive says there might be fire under all the smoke.

After reports that the company is under federal investigation for gender
discrimination, as well as the departure of HR chief Liane Hornsey
following claims she mishandled complaints of racial discrimination, the
company is now conceding it has work to do to become the company it wants
to be.

The news of the federal probe,

first reported in The Wall Street Journal
was picked up by many outlets.

ABC reported:

The company is being sued by
former software engineer
Ingrid Avendaño, who claims she experienced sexual harassment, racial
discrimination and pay inequity. Avendaño left before Khosrowshahi took

Uber said in August that it adjusted salaries to ensure all employees —
regardless of gender or race — are paid equally based on their location,
job and tenure in the role. Uber also
re-evaluated employee salaries
after bonuses were paid out in March.

Uber’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi extolled the changes the company has
introduced over the last months at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech

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Business Insider

He said he was proud of the work his team has done cleaning up its
reputation “externally” in places like London, where Uber had been kicked
out right when Khosrowshahi took over as CEO. It is now
back in London’s good graces.

But when asked about the
high-profile resignation of its head of HR, Liane Hornsey, last week, following an investigation into how she handled concerns about
racial-discrimination, he said, “In hindsight, I didn’t work as much as I
had to internally. Sometimes it takes a punch in the face. This was a rough

Uber also issued an official statement.

The Verge

“We are continually improving as a company and have proactively made a lot
of changes in the last 18 months, including implementing a new salary and
equity structure based on the market, overhauling our performance review
process, publishing Diversity & Inclusion reports, and rolling out
diversity and leadership trainings to thousands of employees globally,” a
spokesperson for Uber said in a statement to The Verge. (The most
recent diversity report, Uber’s second ever and the first since
Khosrowshahi took over, showed
marginal improvements
when it was released in April.)

Despite the assault on multiple fronts, Khosrowshahi attempted to keep the
many questions about the company separate.

The Verge

“All of those were very, very different circumstances. The EEOC issue,
while I can’t talk much about it, has been going on for a long period of
time, and happened to show up in the press at this point,” Khosrowshahi
said about the gender discrimination investigation. The CEO said he held an
all-hands meeting Monday morning, where he initially considered complaining
about the leaks to the WSJ. Instead, he said, he realized that
“what’s coming out in the news is a symptom, and it’s a symptom for us of a
company that doesn’t yet, at all levels — at all levels — really, really
trust that we’re going to do the right thing, not only externally, but also

Rebuilding its reputation seems daunting. Nearly every story about Uber’s
current troubles references the mess it faced under the leadership of
founder Travis Kalanick.

The New York Times

The investigation shows how difficult it has been for Uber to move past its
tumultuous 2017. The company faced numerous accusations of


sex discrimination and harassment
last year, as well as allegations of illegal behavior by its executives,
such as
spying on
stealing secrets
from rivals. The scandals
forced out
Uber’s co-founder and chief executive, Travis Kalanick. His successor, Dara
Khosrowshahi, has
pledged to reform
the company.

What do you think about how Uber is talking about its ongoing

(Image via)

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