The headline-making news coming out of Uber's corporate offices today is that CEO Travis Kalanick will be taking a leave of absence. The more important news, though, came in a 12-page report on the ride-sharing company's corporate-culture issues, compiled by former U.S. attorney general Eric Holder and fellow law partner Tammy Albarrán.
These recommendations are the result of an extensive investigation, which was sparked after former employee Susan Fowler wrote a blog post detailing "allegations of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation during her employment at Uber." Since the investigation began, several senior-level employees have already left the company, and last week 20 people were fired.
Employees got a first look at the findings from the report today, and it was published in full on Bloomberg. “The process was longer than we thought and more painful than we thought, but this chapter comes to an end today,” Arianna Huffington, an Uber board member, said in a statement prepared for the presentation, according to Bloomberg.
The investigation's recommendations are divided into 10 sections. The first half focuses on what the report refers to as "tone at the top" and "accountability." A series of checks will be put in place for senior leadership, who will be held accountable through performance reviews and compensation. The report notes that these individuals may face a "probation period" and dock in salary if they don't achieve "certain minimum levels of performance." Kalanick's duties, meanwhile, will be reallocated, and he'll have less control.
The report focuses a lot of attention on diversity and inclusion within Uber's ranks. Uber's head of diversity, Bernard Coleman, will have a new, expanded title; head of diversity and inclusion. "Diversity is generally viewed as focusing on the presence of diverse employees based on religion, race, age, sexual orientation, gender, and culture," the report says. "Inclusion, on the other hand, focuses not just on the presence of diverse employees, but on the inclusion and engagement of such employees in all aspects of an organization’s operations."
Other efforts meant to increase diversity within the company include the creation of an employee diversity-advisory board, annual release of diversity statistics, and blind résumé reviews during the interview process, which would make a candidate's ethnic background and gender invisible to hiring managers, reducing the risk of unconscious bias.
The report also recommends an overhaul of Uber's human resources department. There's an emphasis on enacting a more effective and streamlined process for making and addressing complaints of harassment and discrimination, prohibiting "romantic or intimate relationships between individuals in a reporting relationship," and limiting alcohol consumption at off-site events. These new guidelines seem to speak directly to an controversial email sent by Kalanick before a company party in 2013.
There are also a series of smaller recommendations that might seem unimportant but could have a big impact on Uber's overall corporate culture. The report suggests moving the company's catered dinners to a time when employees with families could join, as well as offering flexible work arrangements. These are seemingly simple changes that could have a big impact on making Uber a more welcoming environment for women.
It's an impressive report that could stand as a case study for other organizations looking to make their workplaces more inclusive. But the real work has just begun. It will be interesting to track as Uber begins to put these recommendations into action. That is unlikely to be a seamless process, even with three promising new hires on board. But its success, or lack thereof, could make or break the company's future.