Freewheeling Uber faces major change. Its board is cracking down, its founder and CEO is stepping away indefinitely, and the company itself is coming to grips with measures intended to reform its toxic culture and aggressive business practices.
And it all started when Susan Fowler, a former Uber engineer, posted a personal essay in February that detailed the company’s toleration of sexual harassment and discrimination. Had she not come forward in such a public manner, it’s possible none of this would have happened.
“What she did took real courage,” said Elizabeth Ames, a senior vice president at the Anita Borg Institute, a nonprofit founded to advance women in the technology business. “There are many women in companies and technical worlds (who) step up and talk about this problem. And often they are the ones that get tagged as being the problem.”
Following Fowler’s post, Uber hired former Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate her charges . His law firm’s subsequent recommendations , released Tuesday, aim to fix Uber’s dysfunctional management, which allowed the male-dominated ride-hailing company to grow huge without even the most basic procedures to prevent sexual harassment, bullying and other bad behavior.
Also on Tuesday, Uber founder and CEO Travis Kalanick accepted responsibility for the company’s state and told employees that he’d be taking an indefinite leave of absence. The company declined to say if Kalanick’s decision was related to the report.
But Kalanick wasn’t the only Uber official sucked into the vortex unleashed by Fowler’s essay. On Monday, the company announced that Emil Michael, vice president for business and a close Kalanick ally, was also leaving. Then Uber board member and hedge fund partner David Bonderman resigned Tuesday night after making what he called an inappropriate remark about women at a company meeting.
The 13-page document from Holder’s firm Covington & Burling LLP…