Uber hires its first chief diversity officer
- Uber has hired its first chief diversity officer, Recode reports. Bo Young Lee will start the new position in March, at which time she will also join the ride-hailing company's C-suite of officers, including CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, CHRO Liane Hornsey and two other recent additions: COO Barney Harford and chief legal officer Tony West.
- The appointment of a chief diversity officer was one of the recommendations made by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and attorney Tammy Albarran. The two were commissioned by Uber to conduct an internal investigation of the company's culture following ex-Uber engineer Susan Fowler's public allegations of rampant sexual harassment at the company.
- Lee, the former global diversity and inclusion officer at Marsh, a financial services firm, will report directly to Hornsey — not Koshrowshahi, Recode said. Though Holder originally recommended that Uber promote global head of diversity Bernard Coleman to chief diversity officer, Uber opted for an external hire. Coleman's title has not changed and he will report directly to Lee.
Few companies have had their entire culture put under the microscope to the extent that Uber has experienced in the past 12 months. It's been almost a year since Fowler published an essay alleging disturbing, unsolicited interactions with a male manager during her time at the company. But the account's description of other victims' experiences and an unresponsive HR department suggested that Fowler's experience was not an isolated or one-off occurrence.
The ride-hailing firm has since made several changes aimed at restructuring its culture as well as its general operations. The resignation of former CEO Travis Kalanick was the largest in a series of departures, including the firing of over 20 employees in connection with sexual harassment investigations. In the ensuing months, a flurry of job openings for positions aimed at expanding the company's diversity team were posted.
Uber is one of several tech companies charged with creating and sustaining hostile work environments for women and people of color, usually with dismal hiring records for both groups. Targets of harassment and abuse said their complaints to HR were ignored in some cases. Culture changes are meaningless unless HR managers follow up on complaints, enforce a no-tolerance policies, maintain a respectful and inclusive workplace and lead recruitment efforts that prioritize diversity alongside skills and qualifications.
Since the hiring of Khosrowshahi, the company unveiled a revamped set of values developed after discussions with over 1,200 employees and more than 20 focus groups. Uber's other initiatives include the creation of an employee website, "Good People + Good Things," dedicated to promoting positivity. The company also released a diversity report.