Uber and more
I have read all the information that has been coming out of Uber. Nobody seems surprised as this isn’t the first time Uber has been under the microscope. When there is smoke, there is usually fire.
I held back writing about this when the Medium post came out from Susan Fowler. As more and more information has started to makes its way over the airways about the culture that appears to come directly from the top, I felt compelled to write.
There are a handful of things that I find upsetting. The first is obviously the bro-culture that has been nurtured. A culture that is dismissive of women and creates fear. Many have asked why these women (or male engineers) who were unhappy didn’t just leave. Now that they are writing what havoc the culture made on their mental and physical beings but you don’t have to look far for that. There is a reason people stay in abusive relationships. It isn’t easy for many to walk away. There are fears of all fingers point to them, they won’t get another opportunity like this, they can make it work etc., etc
For me, the most unsettling part is the lack of any role played by the investors and the board. Although Mitch and Freada Kapoor have come out saying that they tried to say something many times but to no avail. This is not the first time Uber has been in pointed out for bad behavior and perhaps that board said something but from and outside perspective everything remained the same.
Boards do not always know the ins and outs of what is happening culturally in an organization. There are times when a person from the C-Suite reports to the board. Board members come in and spend time with teams as well but that doesn’t mean they know that the HR department is ignoring bad behavior.
Yet, they do know that the entire organization is filled with men and few women. They are well aware of the issues in the tech industry around the need for gender balance in the start-ups. They read the data that gender balanced companies have a better rate of success. Many of the VC’s are looking hard to find female founders because of an issue that has reared its head time and time again. I admit that I am invested in a company where there are few women and I have pushed to make that change. The founders are aware of it and are hellbent and making that change as well. It starts from the top.
Everyone who invested in Uber knew exactly what they were getting into with this founder but I believe the board should have been on this…and it appears that they weren’t. That to me is the most disturbing outcome of all.