Uber's critics say the entire company culture is toxic. It's not a matter of a few bad apples. There's a systemic culture that protects the guilty and encourages harassment and bad behavior. That's not something that can be easily fixed without a major overhaul of the leadership team.
Uber’s lack of diversity and failed diversity and inclusion commitments have created a vicious cycle. Susan wrote about being forced to stay in a group she wanted to leave, because her departure would have worsened the group’s gender ratio. Diversity is often used as a contorted rationale for bad behavior, and this is one of the most toxic, pathological forms I’ve seen: forcing someone to continue to work for a toxic harassing manager because that star manager has to be protected from showing a declining diversity statistic.
I don’t think Travis or his mostly white-male leadership team can do anything at this point to dig themselves out of this hole. Not long ago, Travis faced criticism for staying on Donald Trump’s committee and then for stepping down. Now Travis’ every move is being scrutinized, and he can’t win because he waited too long to address these issues. What has he done to earn the chance to redeem himself? Having the board and executives he selected and recruited — and pays — investigate is not going to change anything. It seems he will in fact have a free pass, even as two of his investors call Uber out for its failures publicly.
Uber's supporters think the company is making serious efforts to change the culture. Uber's founder and CEO Travis Kalanick sent this memo out to the company after a video of him berating an Uber Black driver surfaced.
By now I’m sure you’ve seen the video where I treated an Uber driver disrespectfully. To say that I am ashamed is an extreme understatement. My job as your leader is to lead…and that starts with behaving in a way that makes us all proud. That is not what I did, and it cannot be explained away.It’s clear this video is a reflection of me—and the criticism we’ve received is a stark reminder that I must fundamentally change as a leader and grow up. This is the first time I’ve been willing to admit that I need leadership help and I intend to get it.I want to profoundly apologize to Fawzi, as well as the driver and rider community, and to the Uber team.—Travis
The fact Kalanick even admitted he made a mistake is a sign that he's willing to make the changes necessary; the 40-year-old is known for his unapologetic and brash style. This, in conjunction with the investigation headed by Eric Holder and Arianna Huffington, makes people believe Uber will change its company culture and thrive.