Uber CEO Travis Kalanick on Monday pledged to "conduct an independent review" into reports that upper management at the company ignored incidents of sexual harassment.
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"I believe in creating a workplace where a deep sense of justice underpins everything we do," Kalanick wrote in an email to employees obtained by Recode.
Uber has hired former Attorney General Eric Holder and Tammy Albarran of the law firm of Covington & Burling to conduct that review "into the specific issues relating to the work place environment raised by Susan Fowler, as well as diversity and inclusion at Uber more broadly," Kalanick wrote.
Uber board member Arianna Huffington, Uber's new Chief Human Resources Officer Liane Hornsey, and Angela Padilla, Uber's Associate General Counsel, will join the review, according to the memo.
He penned the email after former Uber engineer Susan J. Fowler published a blog post that described an incident in which her manager solicited sex over company chat.
"He was in an open relationship, he said, and his girlfriend was having an easy time finding new partners but he wasn't," Fowler wrote. "He was trying to stay out of trouble at work, he said, but he couldn't help getting in trouble, because he was looking for women to have sex with."
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Fowler reported the manager but "was told by both HR and upper management that even though this was clearly sexual harassment and he was propositioning me, it was this man's first offense, and that they wouldn't feel comfortable giving him anything other than a warning and a stern talking-to."
Fowler was told to either switch teams or remain on the team and risk a poor performance review from the offending manager. She opted to switch teams, where she was successful. But in talking to other female employees, she found that "some of them had stories similar to my own.
"Some of the women even had stories about reporting the exact same manager I had reported, and had reported inappropriate interactions with him long before I had even joined the company. It became obvious that both HR and management had been lying about this being 'his first offense", and it certainly wasn't his last," she wrote. "Within a few months, he was reported once again for inappropriate behavior, and those who reported him were told it was still his 'first offense.' The situation was escalated as far up the chain as it could be escalated, and still nothing was done."
The women met with HR separately; "the rep I spoke with told me that he had never been reported before," Fowler wrote. "It was such a blatant lie that there was really nothing I could do."
Ultimately, the manager in question left the company. But Fowler faced other problems at the company, which she details in the blog post, and eventually took another job at Stripe.
In her blog post, Fowler also says Uber was 25 percent female when she joined, a number that dropped to less than 6 percent by the time she left the company. Of that 150 engineers on the site reliability engineer teams, 3 percent were women, she wrote.
In his memo, Kalanick said 15.1 percent of those in engineering, product management, and scientist roles at Uber are women, which "has not changed substantively in the last year." He said this is comparable with other Silicon Valley firms, though he pledged "to publish a broader diversity report for the company in the coming months."