Uber’s actions are having real consequences.
The Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology ended a partnership with Uber over allegations of the ride-hailing giant’s treatment of women employees.
“This is a rare step for us, but we felt compelled to take action in light of the many serious accusations Uber faces regarding the treatment of women employees,” the institute wrote in a press release announcing their decision.
Uber reached out to the Anita Borg Institute in 2015, the group said. Since then, Uber has signed on as a partner with the institute, but hasn’t really done anything. The Anita Borg Institute described a “lack of engagement” on Uber’s part.
Companies working with the Anita Borg Institute, named for a pioneering computer scientist, promise to improve the retention and advancement of women in technical roles, learn about creating an inclusive culture and the specific challenges facing women in technical jobs, and improve recruiting practices for women in technical fields.
“Although we had concerns about the companys reputation, we opened a dialog with Uber leadership and Ubers internal resource group for women technologists,” the institute wrote.
Now, those concerns are enough to dissolve the two parties’ relationship. As a refresher, multiple women who worked at Uber have described a work environment rife with discrimination, sexism, and sexual harassment. Engineer Susan Fowler opened the floodgates in February when she wrote about her experience at the company, where she faced harassment from male managers who were protected by Uber, among other kinds of mistreatment.
Since then, Uber’s faced an exodus of executives, and more stories have emerged including the time CEO Travis Kalanick and Senior Vice President of Business Emil Michael took Uber employees to an escort bar during a trip to Seoul, South Korea.
Kalanick promised to change things. Uber announced an investigation into the issue and brought on former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to run it. The report based on that investigation is yet to be released.
Meanwhile, Uber has been trying to situate its own problems within the tech industry. An Uber recruiter in March blamed Uber’s problems on “systemic” sexism in tech, rather than Uber’s own issues.
With all these problems surrounding treatment of women at Uber, the group told the company that they didn’t think Uber could really benefit from the institute’s resources right now.
We are working hard to transform our culture to support women engineers at Uber, to foster their growth and to attract more women in technical roles. We have received a lot of support from ABI thus far and we have participated in successful Grace Hopper events in the past. We know we have a lot of work ahead of us and while were surprised to hear of this development, we’re committed to continuing the conversation with ABI, Komal Mangtani, from Uber’s senior engineering leadership, said in a statement.
Recode obtained a letter the Anita Borg Institute sent to Uber to dissolve the relationship.
Read the group’s full letter to Uber below:
We are concerned about the continuing allegations that Uber faces about the treatment of women employees as well as other business issues. The Anita Borg Institute (ABI), and other diversity organizations have offered advice, concrete strategies, and resources to assist in improving the culture in Ubers technical organization and the status of your women technologists. We appreciate the initial steps that Uber has taken to address the issues but we believe that with Uber’s current internal focus you are unable to take full advantage of the programs and resources that ABI offers. Annual partnership with the Anita Borg Institute is a year-long engagement that includes access to programs and resources but also includes commitments to specific actions focused on the retention and advancement of women technologists.
Based on the above, the feedback that we have received from our communities and the ongoing public issues, it is appropriate to take a step back and end our current partner engagement. We will return the pro-rated partnership fee and also provide the Top Companies report based on the data that you have provided.
ABI continues to welcome and support the individual women technologists that work at Uber to be a part of our Systers and local communities and to take part in ABI events worldwide.
Please let me know if I can answer any question.
Senior Vice President Industry Partners
Anita Borg Institute www.anitaborg.org