Bozoma "Boz" Saint John, has publicly faced one of her first instances of crisis management in her role as Uber's Chief Brand Officer.
This time, it's Uber's food delivery service, Uber Eats, that is coming under fire for stereotyping. Over the weekend, people took to Twitter to criticize the ride-sharing company for a promotional notice in India celebrating "wife appreciation day" on September 17. The notification, which included a promo code for discounts, was addressed to husbands. It suggested that they order in so their wives could "take a day off from the kitchen."
This sort of messaging would land any company in hot water, but Uber's recent investigation into its workplace culture makes it especially concerning. How is it that a campaign alluding to the oldest gender stereotype in the books — the wife is in the kitchen while her husband is off earning all the money — gets the thumbs up, having presumably passed through multiple rounds of approvals?
In response to one user's Tweet, Uber Communications apologized for the message and deleted it.
But it was Saint John who came out strong, with a more appropriately enraged response and the intention to take action.
Saint John didn't stick to the carefully worded stock party line, and that's a good thing. Her passionate voice is part of the reason she was such an important hire for Uber — if there's anyone who has the power and will to enforce lasting change, it's likely the Apple veteran.
But it's important that Saint John doesn't become the sole voice and face of Uber when outrage over the company's tone-deaf wording occurs. Where is the response from new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi?
Saint John's role is to help build the brand, and responding to the company's errors is certainly part of that. But she shouldn't be the only one who speaks out when something goes wrong. Further, it's clear that deeper cultural change at Uber is still needed so that campaigns like this are voted down long before they hit Twitter.