Uber Apologizes In Email To Ex-Riders; Former Staffer Calls It ‘All … – Forbes
Uber has increasingly faced pressure to renounce its lesser habits, but its latest gesture of repentance has one ex-employee calling foul.
Yesterday, Business Insider reported that certain Uber riders in New York City had received an email from the company, apologizing for its missteps and outlining “radical” plans for change. According to Business Insider’s source, the emails were received by persons who hadn’t much used the ride-hail service lately–possibly because they’d bought their own vehicle, or took up cycling, or were among the 200,000 to drop the app after its surge-pricing during taxi protests at JFK International Airport sparked a massive “#deleteUber” campaign.
Whatever the reason, riders were told by email that Uber had recently “faced some hard truths,” and, in the course of its rapid and enormous expansion, had “failed to prioritize the people that helped get [them] here.” The company also said it had “fallen short” in making sure riders, drivers, and staff were satisfied with their experiences, and gave users a run-down of Uber’s remedying actions since their internal controversies first gained steam last summer.
“After a report of inexcusable workplace harassment surfaced earlier this year, our board and senior leadership took immediate action,” the company wrote, noting that its board has unanimously agreed to adopt all recommendations of the recently-concluded four-month review by former Attorney General Eric Holder and his team.
For Susan J. Fowler, a former Uber engineer whose groundbreaking blog post is almost certainly the “report of inexcusable workplace harassment” to which the email refers, the move is another example of falling short, however. On Twitter, Fowler criticized the email as being “all optics,” rather than a sincere effort to acknowledge and atone for its wrongs, and suggested it is mainly an attempt to pick up those riders it has lost along the way.
It’s all a show. It’s all optics. Whatever it takes to win back the riders from the competition, right?
— Susan J. Fowler (@susanthesquark) June 17, 2017
TechCrunch reflected, “She has a point.” The site noted that Uber’s problems (public efforts to fix them aside) haven’t been limited to office culture of late, or maybe ever.
In the past several months, while competitor service Lyft has seemingly adopted a slow-and-steady approach toward winning the industry, Uber has faced backlash and legal trouble over its mishandling of a rape victim’s medical records, its authority-evading entry into various markets, its alleged theft of Google’s Waymo technology, and its treatment and misleading of drivers, among other things. Issues which, in the battle to retain riders, can add up.
When Uber released its workplace harassment report last week in the midst of an executive exodus, Fowler commented on Twitter that, despite her having come forward and effectively kicked off the company’s cultural renaissance, she had “gotten nothing but aggressive hostility from them” as yet.
It does seem likely that Uber will need to do much more than talk the talk if it doesn’t want any more riders to keep walking.
Uber’s full email to former New York riders, as kindly reproduced by Business Insider, is as follows:
As a company, we have faced some hard truths. In expanding so quickly, we failed to prioritize the people that helped get us here. Ultimately, the measure of our success is the satisfaction of our riders, drivers, and employees — and we realize that we have fallen short.
After a report of inexcusable workplace harassment surfaced earlier this year, our board and senior leadership took immediate action. They asked former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and experts from the law firm Covington & Burling to conduct a thorough investigation. After four months of review, this week they released their report, which you can read here.
Today, we are ready to embrace radical change. Uber’s board has unanimously accepted all 47 recommendations from the Covington Report and has begun to put them and others into action. We are committing ourselves to the following:
- Increasing accountability. Accountability is not a one time thing. We’re creating an Ethics and Culture committee to oversee the actions of our company and our leaders. We have also instituted a 24/7 support line so that any employee can feel safe reporting unprofessional behavior.
- Changing leadership. An independent board chairperson will be appointed along with additional independent board seats. The first of which has been filled by Nestle’s former CFO Wan Ling Martello. Liane Hornsey who came onboard in January as our Chief Human Resources Officer has taken on the task of improving our workplace culture while Frances Frei, Harvard Business School Senior Associate Dean, joined Uber as SVP of Leadership and Strategy in June.
- Focusing on collaboration and empathy. We’re overhauling our cultural values to reward collaboration and to foster a workplace that is inclusive rather than contentious. We believe empathy is not a goal in itself, but one that will help us build products that put our customers’ needs first.
- Empowering diverse perspectives. We’re committing to hiring a diverse workforce and will be appointing a Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer to oversee new policies.
The past several months have compelled us to redefine who we are and who we want to be as a company. We are proud of our thousands of employees across the globe, who are committed to serving our riders and drivers. As a group, our dedication to our mission remains strong. You can hear from employees in this video.
There is still more work to be done, but we are confident that we are taking the first steps to becoming the company you deserve.
Your New York City Uber Team