Uber is fighting another PR nightmare.
In the wake of a damning blog post from former Uber engineer Susan Fowler,
the ride-hailing company is launching an “urgent investigation” into claims
of rampant sexism.
In her blog post, “Reflecting on One Very, Very Strange Year at Uber,” Fowler wrote that the negative experience started her first day working
on her new team:
On my first official day rotating on the team, my new manager sent me a
string of messages 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. 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. It was clear that he was trying to get me to have sex with him,
and it was so clearly out of line that I immediately took screenshots of
these chat messages and reported him to HR.
From there, she said that HR and upper management “wouldn't feel
comfortable giving him anything other than a warning and a stern
Fowler wrote she was then given a choice to find a new team or “stay on the
team, but I would have to understand that he would most likely give me a
poor performance review when review time came around.”
Fowler claimed that Uber’s HR rep lied to her about it being the manager’s
first offense, even though she and other women at the company had reported
She further alleged that “there was a game-of-thrones political war raging
within the ranks of upper management.” In the post, she detailed
backstabbing and nefarious politicking within ranks to move up in the
Keep your cool in a crisis with these tips.]
Fowler also referred to impossible deadlines, frequently abandoned projects
and a general lack of professionalism throughout the company:
It was an organization in complete, unrelenting chaos.
Fowler says when she joined Uber, her organization was comprised of 25
percent women. By the time she left, that number was 6 percent.
One of the more bizarre stories Fowler shared concerns Uber’s promise to
purchase leather jackets for its employees:
One day, all of the women (there were, I believe, six of us left in the
org) received an email saying that no leather jackets were being ordered
for the women because there were not enough women in the organization to
justify placing an order.
Finally, Fowler claimed that her job was threatened after she had reported
a manager to HR:
"(My manager) told me I was on very thin ice for reporting his manager
to HR. California is an at-will employment state, he said, which means
we can fire you if you ever do this again. I told him that was illegal,
and he replied that he had been a manager for a long time, he knew what
was illegal, and threatening to fire me for reporting things to HR was
"I reported his threat immediately after the meeting to both HR and to
the CTO: they both admitted that this was illegal, but none of them did
On Sunday, Uber’s chief executive, Travis Kalanick, issued the following
I have just read Susan Fowler's blog. What she describes is abhorrent and
against everything Uber stands for and believes in. It's the first time
this has come to my attention so I have instructed Liane Hornsey our new
Chief Human Resources Officer to conduct an urgent investigation into these
allegations. We seek to make Uber a just workplace and there can be
absolutely no place for this kind of behavior at Uber — and anyone who
behaves this way or thinks this is OK will be fired.
He also addressed the matter in a series of tweets:
Uber board member Arianna Huffington said she would also be involved in the
Uber investor Chris Sacca took note, tweeting directly to Fowler:
Several news outlets have reached out to Uber for additional comments, but
so far, the company has largely remained silent.
How would you advise Uber to react in the face of this crisis, PR Daily readers?