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Uber’s ex-employee’s blogpost highlights rampant sexism in company

Uber's ex-employee narrated several instances of sexism, sexual harassment as well as internal politics that took place during her time at the company.

Uber, Uber sexual harassment, Uber sexism, Uber sexual harassment allegations, Susan J Fowler, Fowler post on Uber, Uber sexism, Uber allegations, Uber complains, Uber CEO, Travis Kalanick, Uber internal politics, Uber app, Uber cabs, smartphones, technology, technology news Uber’s ex-employee narrated several instances of sexism, sexual harassment as well as internal politics that took place during her time at the company.

Uber has been accused of rampant sexism within the company by an ex-employee Susan J. Fowler. Fowler worked as Site Reliability Engineer (SITE) at Uber, and is now at Stripe. Her blog has gone viral on social media.

Fowler narrated several instances of sexism, sexual harassment as well as internal politics that took place during her time at the company. She has raised questions on failure of HR’s ability to take action in most instances, and the surprisingly low percentage of women employees at Uber.

According to Fowler, on her first official day she received a string of messages over company chat by her new manager asking for sexual favours. “It was clear that he was trying to get me to have sex with him, and it was so clearly out of line that I immediately took screenshots of these chat messages and reported him to HR,” she said.

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She says in her blogpost that HR refused to take stern action against the manager saying this was his ‘first offence’, and apparently he ‘was a high performer’. Fowler later learnt this was not the first such instance to be reported against the particular manager.

She was also given the option to find another team or stay in the team, which she pointed out to the HR wasn’t much of a choice. Fowler was also warned she could end up with a bad review because of this, but the firm wouldn’t do much about it.

In her blogpost, Fowler recounts how she moved to another team, but heard from other women how the same manager had faced a string of similar complaints. Her blogpost also points out internal politics within the organisation. Fowler said she was denied a transfer to another team even though she met ‘all qualifications of transferring’.

“I met all of the qualifications for transferring – I had managers who wanted me on their teams, and I had a perfect performance score – so I didn’t see how anything could go wrong. And then my transfer was blocked,” Fowler said.

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Further, in an incident of sexism, she points out women were denied leather jackets as they were expensive compared to those ordered for men in bulk. According to Fowler, HR told her women were not given these jackets as there were not enough women in the team to justify placing the order.

Meanwhile Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has responded to the blogpost. In a statement to Axios, he said, “I have just read Susan Fowler’s blog. What she describes is abhorrent and against everything Uber stands for and believes in. It’s the first time this has come to my attention so I have instructed Liane Hornsey our new Chief Human Resources Officer to conduct an urgent investigation into these allegations.

We seek to make Uber a just workplace and there can be absolutely no place for this kind of behavior at Uber — and anyone who behaves this way or thinks this is OK will be fired.”

Uber board member Arianna Huffington will launch an independent investigation to look into the allegations made by Fowler as well. In a tweet, she said, “Just talked w/ Travis & as a representative of Uber’s Board I will work w/Liane to conduct a full independent investigation starting now 1/2.”

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Fowler concluded by saying, “On my last day at Uber, I calculated the percentage of women who were still in the org. Out of over 150 engineers in the SRE teams, only 3% were women.”

Of course Fowler’s blogpost is not the first one to highlight sexism inside Silicon Valley. Tinder faced a sexual harassment lawsuit in 2014, which was later settled. A former Tinder marketing Vice-President Whitney Wolfer had alleged the CMO and her ex-boyfriend Justin Mateen sexually harassed her and that CEO Sean Rad ignored her complaints.

In March 2014, Github engineer Julie Ann Howarth had quit the startup over allegations of sexism and gender discrimination. Howarth had also written a blogpost describing the issues within the company.

Fowler’s post paints a pretty scary picture of work culture inside the company, though for Silicon Valley, which still has gender diversity problems, this is nothing new. Whether Uber does something to fix this remains to be seen.

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First published on: 20-02-2017 at 12:00:11 pm
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