Uber announces big plans, promises transformation with no ‘brilliant jerks’

Travis Kalanick uber Adam Tinworth flickr

Uber held a press conference yesterday to discuss the specific changes it will be making after months of scandals. These changes include new leadership, diversity training, and a focus on drivers’ needs and complaints.

Board member Ariana Huffington spoke first about the backlash Uber received after former engineer Susan Fowler Rigetti revealed the institutional sexism of the company.

“I have two daughters who are young adults, just starting out in their careers,” Huffington said. “I want to make sure that the company that we build at Uber reflects the best of anything in the workplace. So that no woman ever has to choose between advancing her career and completely unacceptable treatment.”

She also reiterated that CEO Travis Kalanick is accepting responsibility for Uber’s major issues and is looking for a COO to help him lead. According to Huffington, the candidates the company has been reviewing are  “truly world-class leaders who have worked in very complex organizations already.”

“Going forward there can be no room at Uber for brilliant jerks and zero tolerance for anything but totally respectable behavior in an equitable workplace environment.”

Along with the change to top leadership, Chief HR Officer Liane Hornsey promised a more inclusive environment in the workplace.

Uber this week announced sweeping plans to its structure that includes new leadership and diversity training

“Our focus on diversity and inclusion will be critical to ensuring that Uber is a great place to work,” she said. “Already in recruiting, we’ve updated 1,500 Uber job descriptions to ensure they are free from unconscious bias. In addition we’re focusing on improving candidate experience, ensuring we have diverse panels of trained interviewers.”

Uber is also rolling out training on topics like “Why Diversity Matters” and “How to be an Ally.”

Last month, Kalanick was caught on camera losing his temper with a driver upset about low fares. Kalanick told the driver his financial woes were his fault, but Rachel Holt, head of US and Canada business, assures that this view is changing.

“Drivers are at the center of the Uber experience, and the app they use to go online and earn money is at the center of theirs,” she says. “It’s about more stable earnings, a better product to take the stress out of driving, providing more human and understandable communications, and support so that drivers are true ‘partners.'”

Last week, Uber announced it had completely rebuilt its in-app navigation, and this week it is rolling out a feature that allows riders to change their pick-up location instead of having to cancel and re-request.

The company is also implementing features that minimise the drivers’ time off roads after unfair complaints.

There is still no word on in-app tipping.

Featured image: Adam Tinworth via Flickr (CC 2.0, resized)



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