Uber board member resigns after making a sexist comment at a meeting to address sexism at the company

Photo: Horacio Villalobos – Corbis/Getty Images

Uber board member David Bonderman resigned from the company’s board on Tuesday after making a sexist comment during a company meeting earlier in the day.

Bonderman’s attempt at a joke, which played on a stereotype that women talk too much, came amid a discussion about the steps the ride-hailing company plans to take to address complaints about sexism and gender discrimination in its ranks. He apologised soon after making the statement, but seemed to recognise later that an apology wasn’t enough.

“Today at Uber’s all-hands meeting, I directed a comment to my colleague and friend Arianna Huffington that was careless, inappropriate, and inexcusable,” Bonderman said in a statement. “The comment came across in a way that was the opposite of what I intended, but I understand the destructive effect it had, and I take full responsibility for that.”

His resignation, first reported by The New York Times, will take effect Wednesday morning.

In a separate statement, board member Ariana Huffington thanked Bonderman for stepping down.

“I appreciate David doing the right thing for Uber at this time of critical cultural changes at the company,” she said.

Bonderman’s departure is only the latest bit of turmoil at Uber. Earlier on Tuesday, the company acknowledged that CEO Travis Kalanick will take a leave of absence, and it announced it will make wide-scale changes in an attempt to revamp its corporate culture.

Uber has been contending with a series of scandals since former engineer Susan Fowler published a blog post accusing the company of widespread gender discrimination and charging the company did nothing in response to her complaints that she was sexually harassed by a manager.

On Tuesday, Uber released to employees a report put together by former US Attorney General Eric Holder. Holder and his firm investigated the company’s workplace environment in response to Fowler’s complaints and came up with a list of recommendations for how Uber could improve its culture. The board was discussing those recommendations with employees when Bonderman made his comment.

During the presentation, board member Ariana Huffington announced Wan Ling Mortello would be joining Uber’s board, upping the representation of women there.

“There’s a lot of data that shows when there’s one woman on the board it’s much more likely that there will be a second woman on the board,” Huffington said, according to a recording of the meeting obtained by Yahoo Finance.

Bonderman responded by saying, “Actually, what it shows is that it’s much more likely to be more talking.”

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