Monday 20 January 2020

Uber votes to back sexual harassment probe finding

Stock image: Reuters
Stock image: Reuters

Heather Somerville

The Uber Technologies board of directors has voted unanimously to adopt all recommendations from a report into allegations of sexual harassment at the company and other employee concerns.

It adopted a series of recommendations from former US Attorney General Eric Holder following a sprawling, multi-month investigation into Uber's cultures and practices. The recommendations will be released to employees on Tuesday, said a board representative who declined to be identified.

Holder and his law firm were retained in February to investigate after former Uber engineer Susan Fowler published a blog post detailing what she described as sexual harassment.

The recommendations in Holder's firm's report are expected to force greater controls on spending, human resources and other areas where executives led by CEO Travis Kalanick have had a surprising amount of autonomy for a company with more than 12,000 employees, a source familiar with the matter said.

The meeting, which Uber did not publicise, is a pivotal moment for the world's most valuable venture-backed private company that has upended the tightly-regulated taxi industry in many countries but has also run into legal trouble with a rough-and-tumble approach to local regulations and the way it handles employees and drivers.

Its image, culture and practices have been largely defined by Kalanick's brash approach, company insiders and investors previously told Reuters.

Board members were also expected to discuss Kalanick temporarily stepping away from the embattled firm - possibly returning to a role with less authority - and other changes to executive leadership.

The company also plans to appoint Wan Ling Martello, of Nestle, to the board, Bloomberg reported. The board's decisions follow a series of public-relations crises for Uber. The company faces a criminal probe related to a technology used to deceive regulators in cities where it was operating.

Uber's self-driving car program is in jeopardy after a lawsuit from Alphabet alleging trade secrets theft, and the company has suffered an exodus of several of its top executives.

One Uber investor called the board's decisions a step in the right direction, giving Uber an "opportunity to reboot". (Reuters)

Irish Independent

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