Uber Report: Eric Holder’s Recommendations for Change

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Uber’s reputation has suffered in recent months because of issues over its workplace culture. Credit Eric Gay/Associated Press

Here are the main recommendations for improving Uber’s workplace culture as laid out in a report after an inquiry by Eric H. Holder Jr., the former attorney general, and his law firm, Covington & Burling.

Changes to Senior Leadership

The report urged that the responsibilities of Uber’s chief executive, Travis Kalanick, be reallocated:

The Board should evaluate the extent to which some of the responsibilities that Mr. Kalanick has historically possessed should be shared or given outright to other members of senior management. The search for a Chief Operating Officer should address this concern to some extent.

Mr. Kalanick, who announced a leave of absence as the report was disclosed, has been under fire for his flouting of rules and norms, including transportation and safety regulations.

The report called for the company to use performance reviews to hold executives accountable and to increase the powers of the company’s head of diversity:

The position should be renamed the “Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer,” and the position should report directly to the CEO or the COO. This action is intended to reflect the elevated status of this role and demonstrate the company’s commitment to this issue.

Board Oversight

Recommendations included the addition of more independent board members, an independent chair of the board, an oversight committee, and using compensation to hold senior executives accountable:

The Board should consider incorporating ethical business practices, diversity and inclusion, and other values from Uber’s Business Code of Conduct into its executive compensation program. Experience shows that compensation provides a powerful tool for creating incentives for behavior, and reinforcing a company’s values.

Better Human Resources Systems and Training

The report called for Uber, which has been heavily criticized for a management culture that is slow to respond to employee complaints, to make sure it had good tools in place to track employee data, including complaints:

Senior managers should be able to track whether certain organizations or managers give rise to multiple complaints such that intervention with the manager is needed.

Recommendations also included mandatory leadership training for executives, human resources training and manager training.

The Complaint Process

In particular, the report called for a “a robust and effective complaint process.”

Uber should enhance communication to employees concerning how and to whom they can raise complaints about harassment, discrimination, and retaliation. Uber should develop and communicate multiple avenues for lodging a complaint, including an employee’s immediate manager or next-level manager, the organization’s Human Resources Business Partner, or the Integrity Helpline. This encourages employees who may otherwise fear retaliation to come forward, knowing that there are multiple avenues they can utilize if they have a concern.

Cultural Values

Responding to criticism of a generally toxic environment at Uber, the report urged the rewriting of the company’s written cultural values to “reflect more inclusive and positive behaviors.”

To achieve this reformulation of the values, there are several steps Uber should undertake: work with an established and respected organization that is experienced in organizational change to restate the values with significant input from employees; consider further defining the values in a manner more accessible to and more easily understood by employees; adopt values that are more inclusive and contribute to a collaborative environment, including emphasizing teamwork and mutual respect, and incorporating diversity and inclusiveness as a key cultural value, not just as an end in itself, but as a fundamental aspect of doing good business; reduce the overall number of values, and eliminate those values which have been identified as redundant or as having been used to justify poor behavior, including Let Builders Build, Always Be Hustlin’, Meritocracy and Toe-Stepping, and Principled Confrontation; and encourage senior leaders to exhibit the values on a daily basis and to model a more collaborative and inclusive Uber culture.

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