News about Uber this year has read more like an exposé than anything else. First, there was the explosive blog-post by one of its women engineers that detailed her sexual harassment at the hands of her manager and how the management did almost nothing about it upon being informed. In fact, the survivor wrote that she was told that the offender was a “high performer” and that the management “wouldn’t feel comfortable punishing him for… an innocent mistake”. Even before that controversy had died down, a video of co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick getting into an arugument with a Uber driver leaked—Kalanick told the driver who had talked to him about the poor earnings from the Uber Black service that “some people don’t like to take responsibility for their own shit”, insinuating perhaps that the driver was responsible for the falling earnings, not Uber’s tariff model and competition from other Uber services. As the backlash got stronger, Kalanick, who has a reputation for being brash and aggressive, mailed his co-workers an apology insisting that he “must fundamentally change as a leader, and grow up”.
Last week, barely a couple of days before former US attorney general Eric Holder and his partner Tammy Albarrán submitted a report on management reforms at Uber to the company’s board, Uber fired its Asia Pacific chief Eric Alexander after reporters tried to contact the company following the news that he had illegally obtained confidential documents pertaining to the rape of a passenger by a Uber driver in Delhi in 2014. It was also widely reported that Alexander had shared the documents with Kalanick who had allegedly initially thought the rape incident had been orchestrated by competitors. With so much negative publicity regarding the company’s work culture, and involving top personnel, the company board chose to accept all recommendations made in the Holder-Albarrán report. Though the particulars remain secret, hopefully, they will rid the company of its “bro” culture.