Uber's chief of people resigns after alleged mishandling of bias claims
- Liane Hornsey, senior vice president and chief people officer of Uber, has resigned, multiple outlets reported Wednesday. Hornsey was "pushed out" following an internal investigation into allegations that her department ignored charges of racial discrimination at Uber by anonymous employees of the company, The Wall Street Journal reported.
- In an email to her team obtained by Bloomberg, Hornsey wrote that, "I have been thinking about this for a while." CEO Dara Khosrowshahi announced Hornsey's resignation in an email to staff: "Liane is incredibly talented, creative, and hard-working," he wrote, per a transcript obtained by Business Insider. "She’s been a valuable member of my leadership team and I wish her nothing but the best."
- Hornsey joined Uber in early 2017, according to The Wall Street Journal. Uber did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Hornsey's announcement is a stunning one for Uber. The company has spent the better part of 17 months working to turn around both its internal culture and external image in the aftermath of a series of sexual harassment accusations that became all the more notable due to its alleged inability to properly escalate employee concerns internally. Hornsey's team has been leading this effort on many fronts.
Amid an investigation led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the ride-hailing firm began recruiting to expand its in-house diversity team, eventually hiring its first chief diversity officer, Bo Young Lee, in June 2017. According to Recode, Lee was to directly report to Hornsey instead of Khosrowshahi. Prior to that it was reported that the company had fired at least 20 employees during a probe of sexual harassment allegations. It also announced both the creation of new company "norms" and the release of a diversity report.
Allegations of racial bias and the subsequent departure of a key HR executive might serve to complicate these efforts. But what made the Uber saga impactful for HR executives was its insight into organizational bias within the broader tech industry — not just at Uber. Issues of gender and racial bias have reached offices at giant companies including Google, Tesla and Microsoft.
Solving complicated issues that have their root in systemic inequality require transparency in the form of open dialogue and company-wide knowledge of issues, one Silicon Valley HR leader recently told HR Dive.
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