Uber seems to be looking to make amends to the tech industry in light of its tumultuous year that kicked off with former engineer Susan Fowler’s allegations of sexual harassment and management issues at the company. Just yesterday, Uber offered $125,000 to Black Girls Code, but the organization turned it down, Black Girls Code founder Kimberly Bryant told TechCrunch.
“My decision is layered,” Bryant told TechCrunch. “I’ve been quite open for some time about the fact that we as an org use Uber as a tool. We’re also headquartered in the city [Oakland] where they have planned to move. So I’ve been open to the notion that they can transform themselves. Yet their past history and ‘political’ nature of maneuvering is and was troubling.”
Update 8/28: Black Girls Code ended up raising over $145,000 from a bunch of people in the tech community over the weekend via PayPal.
Bryant went on to say that Uber has given very little money to Oakland and that it’s a bit disingenuous to see such a large grant go to Girls Who Code. She added, it “seems a bit tone-deaf to really addressing real change in how they are moving towards both inclusion and equity. It appears to be more PR driven than actually focused on real change. So we turned it down.”
Just yesterday, Uber announced it was giving $1.2 million in grant money to Girls Who Code, a nonprofit organization focused on closing the gender gap in tech by teaching girls how to code. But some people aren’t happy with Uber’s first grantee, saying that in light of everything that has happened around sexual harassment at the company, Uber should have invested in a women in tech organization or an organization that supports victims of sexual harassment.
After Fowler’s allegations surfaced, Uber conducted a workplace harassment investigation, released a diversity report and said it would commit $3 million over the next three years to support organizations focused on diversity in tech.
Fowler was among some of the people speaking out against Uber’s grant to Girls Who Code, saying that if Uber wants to improve its image, it should help the women Uber has hurt.
Those points are all fair. Though, as I mentioned, this is Uber’s first investment and there’s still $1.5 million left to put into diversity in tech organizations. It’s worth noting that when I initially spoke to Uber, the company said the investment to Girls Who Code would probably be the largest commitment to a single organization.
I’ve reached out to Uber and will update this story if I hear back.