Former Attorney General Eric Holder and his law partner Tammy Albarrán announced some highly anticipated recommendations based on an internal harassment probe to employees in an all-hands meeting this morning.
The board agreed, after several hours on Sunday to adopt all 10 recommendations given by law firm Covington & Burling LLP, where Holder and Albarrán are partners. You can read the 13-page letter with all recommendations here. But tl;dr, some key recommendations include “reallocating the responsibilities” of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and increasing the profile of Uber’s head of diversity Bernard Coleman. Kalanick has announced in a separate letter to employees he would be taking a leave of absence from the company.
Other important changes will be to increase Uber’s board independence from the company, to create a separate ethics and culture committee or similar committees, to use compensation to hold senior leaders accountable and to eliminate certain company values like “Let Builders Build” and “Always Be Hustlin’,” which were used in the past to justify bad behavior.
The internal probe was based on a litany of allegations made by former Uber engineer Susan Fowler, including that she was discriminated against based on her gender and that the company ignored her repeated complaints of sexual harassment at the hands of her supervisor, basing it on the fact that he was a “high performer.” Uber’s head of HR Liane Hornsey has reportedly thanked Fowler in the all-hands meeting for kicking off the changes.
However, Fowler maintains Uber has never apologized to her. She responded in a tweet to the recommendations letter shortly after it was posted this morning:
Other recommendations include giving out free Uber credits to employees (early employees got the credits but now every employee will be able to use them), equal family leave time for both male and female employees and dinner served earlier than 7 pm as part of an effort to encourage a healthy work/life balance.
The law firm’s recommendations touch nearly every aspect of the company and signal Uber is intent on creating the kind of internal change needed to move it toward a more inclusive workplace.
Kalanick did not name a temporary new CEO and it is possible he could stay close to the company during his leave. “During this interim period, the leadership team, my directs, will be running the company,” Kalanick wrote.
However, his decision to step down for an undetermined amount of time follows earlier rumors the board had been discussing a possible leave of absence for the CEO. Externally Kalanick and his executive team have been blamed for creating a bro culture rife with misogyny. However, inside sources intimate the CEO has a loyal following and a recent New York Times piece shows Kalanick may have even more clout within.
The shakeup has already prompted departures from several top executives at the company, and Uber has fired at least 20 employees since beginning a separate internal investigation with law firm Perkins and Coie into other forms of harassment and discrimination. Emil Michael, Uber’s former SVP of business and the man who once suggested Uber could and should perform opposition research on journalists, also stepped down from his position yesterday, amid the turmoil.
You can read the full recommendation report here.