Uber CEO Travis Kalanick just announced he’ll be taking a leave of absence while the company struggles to transform itself in the wake of a brutally bad year full of scandal and crisis.
“The ultimate responsibility, for where we’ve gotten and how we’ve gotten here rests on my shoulders,” Kalanick wrote in a company-wide email announcing his leave, according to BuzzFeed News. “For Uber 2.0 to succeed there is nothing more important than dedicating my time to building out the leadership team. But if we are going to work on Uber 2.0, I also need to work on Travis 2.0 to become the leader that this company needs and that you deserve.”
The announcement comes after Uber’s Board of Directors unanimously voted to approve all of former Attorney General Eric Holder’s recommendations for improving company culture. Holder and his law firm, Covington & Burling LLP, were hired by Uber to conduct an independent investigative review on the company’s workplace culture one day after Susan Fowler published a blog post detailing her “strange” year-long tenure at Uber where she faced sexual harassment and discrimination first-hand.
The report recommends a massive overhaul for the company accused of promoting a toxic “bro culture”
Uber has been under a seemingly never-ending siege of bad press for quite some time now, including revelations that an Uber executive allegedly retrieved and shared the medical records of a passenger who accused her Uber driver of rape. The company is also embroiled in a lawsuit with Alphabet’s Waymo for allegedly stealing self-driving technology secrets. And just last week, Uber fired at least 20 people as part of the internal investigation into sexual harassment at the company.
The report recommends a massive overhaul for the company accused of promoting a toxic “bro culture” under Kalanick’s leadership. For instance, it recommends formalizing organizational structures and procedures that lend themselves to a healthier and more inclusive workplace.
“We recommend that Uber focus on four prevailing themes with regard to taking the following remedial measures: tone at the top, trust, transformation, and accountability,” the report says.
Highlights from the recommendations include:
- Redefine Travis Kalanick’s role. The report urges the Board to evaluate which of Kalanick’s responsibilities should be “shared or given outright to other members of senior management.” It also highlights the need for Uber to name a COO who could take on some of Kalanick’s “day to day” work.
- Rethink Uber’s 14 cultural values. Uber should ditch some of the values people were using to justify terrible behavior at the company. They include edicts like “Let Builders Build”, “Always Be Hustlin’”, “Meritocracy and Toe-Stepping”, and “Principled Confrontation”.
- Implement internal improvements in various areas. They include clearer performance metrics, various training programs, and a more transparent and rigorous complaint process to HR.
- Keep executives accountable. Use performance reviews and compensation to hold Uber’s leaders accountable.
- Enhance Board oversight. The report suggests things such as restructuring the board to include additional independent board seats.
- Focus on diversity. This includes doing things like giving more power to Uber’s head of Diversity and regularly publishing diversity statistics.