Uber can’t seem to pull itself out of PR purgatory, and they may take (more) drastic action. Such a move would follow last week’s announcement of 20 fired employees during the course of the company’s internal investigation — into sexual harassment allegations and a toxic workplace culture — led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. This probe (and the relatively public treatment of it) is undoubtedly geared towards repairing Uber’s image. However, any progress was derailed by the resurfacing of a 2013 email that revealed a cavalier attitude about sex between Uber coworkers. Now, CEO Travis Kalanick may see some repercussions, although the company still appears to be wavering.
The New York Times reports that Uber’s board of directors will meet on Sunday to discuss the findings of Holder’s investigation. Holder has reportedly suggested the firing of Emil Michael, who’s a “close confidant” of Kalanick and one of the company’s VPs. As for Kalanick, the board will reportedly consider imposing a leave of absence upon him. Some more:
Separately, the board members will also address the recommendations of Eric J. Holder’s monthslong investigation into the company’s culture, a deeply researched look backed by interviews with hundreds of employees. The meeting, which will be held in the Los Angeles offices of Covington and Burling, Mr. Holder’s law firm, is expected to last for a number of hours before the board makes any decisions on Mr. Holder’s recommendations.
This news arrives a few days after Vanity Fair‘s Maya Kosoff served up a scathing indictment against Uber and its “macho” culture, along with an analysis of the root of the problem:
For some industry insiders, unrealistic expectations are at the heart of Uber’s crisis. “I think a really important question for investors, for the media, for everyone is: if you put somebody, a brash innovator on a pedestal, why are you surprised when that brashness spills over to how he treats employees and, in [the case of Kalanick getting into an argument with an Uber driver], vendors of the company?” Frieda Kapor, an early Uber investor, told me in March. But the hits to Uber’s reputation keep coming — and more and more concern Kalanick himself.
Throughout all of the Kalanick-related shenanigans (and the sometimes delayed revelations of them), Uber has only further buried itself with business practices such as adding hidden fees to standard fares. And recently, the company used “surge pricing” during the London terror attacks. Even if the Holder investigation makes progress on its goals, the company seems determined to run itself into the ground.