Uber CEO to take leave, leadership team to run company

Randall Padilla
June 14, 2017

Mr Kalanick told employees about his decision in an email as the firm was urged to transform its toxic culture.

"Implementing these recommendations will improve our culture, promote fairness and accountability, and establish processes and systems to ensure the mistakes of the past will not be repeated", Uber's HR chief Liane Hornsey said in a statement on the company's website.

Published in February, Fowler's blog post jarred the company and provided outsiders with a glimpse into a much criticized aspect of workplace culture in Silicon Valley.

However, his decision to step down for an undetermined amount of time follows earlier rumors the board had been discussing a possible leave of absence for the CEO. The report also suggested performance reviews for executives, a restructured and more independent board with an oversight committee, a rewrite of Uber's cultural values and mandatory leadership training for leaders in the organization.

These recommendations are a departure from Kalanick's previous guidelines on sex and partying at the company. Uber needs to eliminate the values that have justified poor behavior in the past, the report said, like "Let Builders Build", "Always Be Hustlin'", "Meritocracy and Toe-Stepping" and "Principled Confrontation". Chief among them is reassigning some of Kalanick's responsibilities to other employees. The leave is necessary, the 40-year-old co-founder of the ride-hailing company said, "to become the leader that this company needs".

"The ultimate responsibility, for where we've gotten and how we've gotten here, rests on my shoulders", Kalanick wrote in the e-mail to employees. The board also called for appointment of a senior executive to oversee implementation of Holder's recommendations. Holder's report advises the company to make clear that any type of relationship between a subordinate and boss should be prohibited.

While Uber released Holder's recommendations, his full report was kept private to protect the privacy of those filing complaints.

"The recommendations are both thoughtful and extensive, and we are very encouraged that they have taken this as seriously as we had hoped", the Kapors wrote in an open letter.

While Uber board member Arianna Huffington may have indicated that they planned to expose bad actors through internal investigations, this particular report does not.

Uber was also advised to make sure its workforce is more diverse. In the USA, less than a third of the company's workers are female. Ideally, the COO would report directly to Uber's board and have independent authority over sensitive issues like human resources.

Uber recently fired 20 employees following a separate investigation of workplace harassment by the law firm Perkins Coie.

Travis Kalanick has been the driving force behind Uber, taking a spur-of-moment idea and turning it into the world's most valuable venture-funded tech startup.

Uber's valuation has climbed to almost 70 billion USA dollars (£55 billion). Those moves came last week, after an outside firm was hired to investigate more than 200 misconduct claims against the company, as NPR's Yuki Noguchi reported.

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