I don't have a lot more to add to what has been voluminous coverage over the last several days of the recent expose of Uber's (probably) hostile work environment, particularly for the women at Uber. The process of the shocking reveal of what is was really like to work at Uber from a former employee, the wide and far calls of condemnation and Uber boycotts, followed by the quick (and high profile) reactions and vows to 'fix' things from Uber's CEO and their celebrity board member are playing out more or less how you would expect them to.
Whether or not Uber can, wants to, or will really be able to 'fix' things remains to be seen, and is probably the less important of the things that the rest of us can take away from this mess. It is probably more useful for us to think about how Uber (and others like them), got to this point in the first place.
Recode has a good piece about how Uber insiders attribute a large portion of the situation at Uber, the ineffectual support and response of internal HR to employee complaints, to the HR culture at Uber of being 90% about recruiting, and 9% about terminations, with the leftover 1% spent doing the necessary admin functions. I made up the percentages, but the idea is clear - Uber was scaling up at a rapid pace, hiring was critical to meeting their business objectives, and it seems likely once people were hired, they were more or less on their own.
And while the Recode piece makes some great points, and I have no reason to think it is not accurate, I would add one more possible 'cause' to all this mess at Uber, (and the many, many other tech companies that continually struggle with these issues). And it is this - from the earliest stages of the enterprise, the initial presentations and investor pitch decks that the founders use to raise funds, building and supporting diverse teams of people is almost (I can't find one example) never mentioned in these contexts. The 'formula' for raising investments does not include things like a diversity plan or strategies to incorporate talent from underrepresented groups as a key element that will lead to business success.
It is just never mentioned. What gets mentioned, (and rewarded), are the product ideas, the 'briliance' of the founder, or the reasonable line of sight the investor can assess from the idea to some kind of highly profitable outcome.
I did some quick searching this morning for 'Best Pitch Decks Ever' or 'Top Pitch Decks of All Time' and I looked through about 20 of them and did not find one mention of diversity, inclusion, or a stated goal to build a more open, welcoming, fair, or equitable workplace. Note, I am certain this exists somewhere, but I could not find an example right off the bat.
So back to the question of where to these problems start at places like Uber?
I think they start from that very first slide deck and from that first presentation where I bet no one talks about these issues.
Should they be raised at that early point in a company's growth? I will leave that up to the professional investors and founders I guess.
But having said that, leaving that question up to those two groups has led us to places like Uber.
Have a great Wednesday!