On Sunday, a blog post from Emily Fowler, a former engineer for Uber, went viral. Within her essay, Fowler alleged a startling pattern of sexual harassment and sexism that she claimed runs rampant at the company. By evening, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick promised to launch an “urgent” investigation into Fowler’s claims. Less than one day later, Kalanick has hired former Obama Attorney General Eric Holder to lead the probe.
Undoubtedly, Kalanick is keen to avoid another #DeleteUber boycott, for the last such incident spurred him to step down from Donald’s Trump’s economic advisory council. Yet Kalanick also expressed sincere disgust at what Fowler says she experienced, which included gender favoritism, sexual harassment by management, and a dismissive, almost accusatory reaction from human resources. Kalanick — who claims have known nothing about the alleged treatment described by Fowler — is sending a strong message by hiring Holder. The CEO issued a memo, which reads in part:
Eric Holder, former US Attorney General under President Obama, and Tammy Albarran — both partners at the leading law firm Covington & Burling — will conduct an independent review into the specific issues relating to the work place environment raised by Susan Fowler, as well as diversity and inclusion at Uber more broadly. Joining them will be Arianna Huffington, who sits on Uber’s board, Liane Hornsey, our recently hired Chief Human Resources Officer, and Angela Padilla, our Associate General Counsel. I expect them to conduct this review in short order.
Kalanick was heavily criticized for not speaking out against Trump’s Muslim ban until a boycott happened, so he’s definitely learned his lesson about moving too slow in the wake of public outrage. He’s also called an all-hands meeting on Tuesday to start dealing with the problem head-on, and interviews will also take place with staff members. Further, Kalanick has vowed to increase the level of diversity after Fowler’s letter revealed that this was also a problem at Uber. And Holder and his team will start working towards results beginning on Tuesday.