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Uber hires former US Attorney General to investigate its massive sexism scandal

Published Feb 21st, 2017 6:50AM EST

Uber has a huge sexism scandal on its hands after former Uber engineer Susan Fowler Riggetti exposed her experiences while working at the alternative taxi company. Following a revealing blog post from Riggetti, Uber has taken immediate action to investigate the allegations of sexism and sexual harassment at the company, hiring former US Attorney General Eric Holder for that purpose.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said in a memo to employees obtained by Recode that Holder will be joined by Tammy Albarran, both partners at Covington & Burling. Board member Arianna Huffington, Chief Human Resources Officer Liane Hornsey, and Associate General Counsel Angela Padilla.

Huffington and Hornsey will join Kalanick for an all-hands meeting tomorrow, and they will be conducting one-on-one “listening sessions” with staff after the meeting.

Kalanick also decided to reveal Uber’s diversity numbers, a question he dodged in the past. According to the memo, Uber women account for 15.1% of Uber’s workforce. The CEO indicated that’s a similar number to Facebook (17%), Google (18%), and Twitter — Recode points out that Kalanick’s 10% estimate for Twitter is inaccurate.

Recode also notes that Uber had a “series of missteps” related to women in the past, and its current action might be too little too late for many people. These missteps include “tasteless ads, rude remarks from Kalanick, bizarre threats aimed at a female reporter by a top exec and, perhaps most importantly, allegations that Uber has not taken the safety of women passengers seriously enough.”

Furthermore, this is the second major scandal to hit Uber in a matter of weeks. More than 200,000 people deleted their Uber accounts a few weeks ago, following the way Uber and Kalanick reacted to President Donald Trump’s controversial Muslim ban.

Kalanick’s full memo follows below.


It’s been a tough 24 hours. I know the company is hurting, and understand everyone has been waiting for more information on where things stand and what actions we are going to take.

First, Eric Holder, former US Attorney General under President Obama, and Tammy Albarran — both partners at the leading law firm Covington & Burling– will conduct an independent review into the specific issues relating to the work place environment raised by Susan Fowler, as well as diversity and inclusion at Uber more broadly. Joining them will be Arianna Huffington, who sits on Uber’s board, Liane Hornsey, our recently hired Chief Human Resources Officer, and Angela Padilla, our Associate General Counsel. I expect them to conduct this review in short order.

Second, Arianna is flying out to join me and Liane at our all hands meeting tomorrow to discuss what’s happened and next steps. Arianna and Liane will also be doing smaller group and one-on-one listening sessions to get your feedback directly.

Third, there have been many questions about the gender diversity of Uber’s technology teams. If you look across our engineering, product management, and scientist roles, 15.1% of employees are women and this has not changed substantively in the last year. As points of reference, Facebook is at 17%, Google at 18% and Twitter is at 10%. Liane and I will be working to publish a broader diversity report for the company in the coming months.

I believe in creating a workplace where a deep sense of justice underpins everything we do. Every Uber employee should be proud of the culture we have and what we will build together over time. What is driving me through all this is a determination that we take what’s happened as an opportunity to heal wounds of the past and set a new standard for justice in the workplace. It is my number one priority that we come through this a better organization, where we live our values and fight for and support those who experience injustice.



Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.