In April 2016, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick announced that publisher and business mogul Arianna Huffington would join his company's board of directors, praising her "emotional intelligence," the kind women tend to have so much of. "I’m confident she will bring some ethos and pathos to our Uber logos," Kalanick said.
Let's hope so, at least on the "ethos" part, and now it looks like we'll get to see. As the ride-hailing company reckons with the account of a former female engineer, Susan Fowler, who alleges she was harassed, and then intimidated and stymied by HR, Huffington writes on Uber's blog that she'll be taking a leadership role investigating the situation.
On Sunday, Fowler wrote that in a tumultuous year at Uber, she was harassed by a possible repeat offender because, she was allegedly told, he was a "high performer." While he got a pass, and allegedly took advantage of it to harass more women, her mobility at the company was blocked. According to Fowler, the situation was such that a 25 percent female team was, in short order, just 3 percent female.
In response to the widely-circulated accusations, Kalanick penned a company-wide email and announced former Attorney General Eric Holder would participate in an investigation into the alleged HR turmoil. Now it's Huffington's turn to say her piece, and she claims she'll ensure the accountability of Uber's leadership, having spent more than 60 minutes speaking with the company's HR head.
I just joined Travis and Liane Hornsey, Uber’s recently hired Chief Human Resources Officer, for the company’s weekly meeting. We spent over an hour discussing women in the workplace — and talking about the review that’s underway by Eric Holder and Tammy Albarran into diversity and inclusion at Uber.
Travis spoke very honestly about the mistakes he’s made — and about how he wants to take the events of the last 48-hours to build a better Uber. It was great to see employees holding managers accountable. I also view it as my responsibility to hold the leadership team’s feet to the fire on this issue.
Change doesn’t usually happen without a catalyst. I hope that by taking the time to understand what’s gone wrong and fixing it we can not only make Uber better but also contribute to improvements for women across the industry.
This was Huffington's initial reaction to Fowler's account.
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— Arianna Huffington (@ariannahuff) February 20, 2017
After joining Uber's board, last summer Huffington left her role as chairwoman, president, and editor-in-chief of the publication that bears her name to champion powerful, pressing causes.... such as getting a good night's sleep, the subject of her book The Sleep Revolution. She's also working on her company Thrive Global, a "corporate and consumer well-being and productivity platform."
A neuroscientist says this is the single best thing you can do for your well-being https://t.co/HnvFZxqv8H— Arianna Huffington (@ariannahuff) February 17, 2017
Sleep (or lack thereof) in the age of Trump https://t.co/AqMvM9x3G7— Arianna Huffington (@ariannahuff) February 17, 2017
As BuzzFeed tech writer Nitasha Tiku observed last year, Huffington has framed her arguments about sleep and fatigue as labor issues. But so far, she's exerted "little pressure on employers to improve working conditions beyond installing a nap room."
Huffington ought to be rested and ready to go in her accountability efforts at Uber, then.