Travis Kalanick, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the ride-hailing company Uber which is under fire for toxic culture, has told his employees that he will take a leave of absence for an unspecified period and let his leadership team run the company during the period.
That was one of 47 remedial actions the board agreed to undertake following an internal report compiled by former US attorney general Eric Holder, who had been hired to investigate allegations of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation leveled by former Uber engineer Susan Fowler.
Holder and his law firm were retained after former Uber engineer Susan Fowler in February published a blog post detailing what she described as sexual harassment and the lack of a suitable response by senior managers. The woman, who had worked for Uber between November 2015 and December 2016, had further alleged that the company's human resources department did not act on her accusations.
The Holder report, with 200 interviews from current and former employees, made it clear that Uber policies need to state directly that improper, lewd conduct is prohibited.
Additionally, Holder suggests that Uber should conduct performance reviews for top executives, implement more careful oversight of its board and place a greater emphasis on diversity efforts within the company. On Sunday, Uber's board adopted a set of recommendations aimed at changing a corporate culture that tolerated sexual harassment and worker retaliation.
CEO Travis Kalanick bore the brunt of the report as it recommended that the company "review and relocate" Kalanick's responsibilities within the firm. The role of chief financial officer remains open, and it's actively searching for an operating chief to provide leadership help to Kalanick.
Under Kalanick, Uber has shaken up the taxi industry in hundreds of cities and turned the San Francisco-based company into the world's most valuable startup.
The board also recommended adding independent directors and replacing its chairman, co-founder Garrett Camp, with an independent chairman.
That firm checked into 215 complaints, with 57 still under investigation. There will also be a number of facile changes meant to smooth out the gritty culture Kalanick fostered, including renaming the company's main conference center from the War Room to the Peace Room. At its peak, it was valued at more than $70 billion. That's a change Uber has already made. But Lyft Inc. has stolen some market share in the US, and Uber's internal strife could open opportunities for competitors globally to lure partners, raise funds or poach talent. Its president, Jeff Jones, quit in March after less than six months.
- Kalanick said his direct reports will be running the company, and he will be available as needed for the most strategic decisions. According to leaked audio the meeting obtained by Yahoo News, she said, "There's a lot of data that shows when there's one woman on the board, it's much more likely that there will be a second woman on the board".