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What not to learn from Uber

By Brianna Liestman

Yesterday, The New York Times announced that Uber had fired 20 employees amid an investigation into the ride sharing company’s workplace culture. The company has been under fire for what has been described as “deep-seated management and culture issues,” which have been brought to light as current and ex-employees have shared their stories. And they’re pretty bad.

Perkins Coie investigated 215 staff complaints going back as far as 2012, Uber said, taking action in 58 cases and no action on 100 more. Other investigations are continuing.

Of the 215 claims, Uber said 54 were related to discrimination, 47 related to sexual harassment, 45 to unprofessional behaviour, 33 to bullying and 36 to other types of claims.

While I commend Uber for taking steps to possibly fix its culture problems, we all know the culture comes from the top down. Uber’s announcement that it was improving management training certainly implies people with power in the company were let go.

A big question for the company is how this culture was created in the first place. It certainly didn’t come out of thin air. How much does Uber Chief Executive Travis Kalanick impact that culture? And if he is impacting the culture, will anything actually change?

You don’t want a PR disaster about your company culture like Uber has experienced. It certainly won’t help you hire employees in the future, because your company culture’s reputation is lasting. Therefore, as a manager or owner you need to be constantly aware of how your actions (or inaction) contributes to the overall culture. What message does it send your management team? Your employees?

In our current competitive job market, employers can no longer get by on doing the bare minimum for employees. Not only does word spread fast, but employees have plenty of options for where to find work elsewhere.

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