Here's how Uber says it's fixing the 'cult of the individual' problem at the company

Travis KalanickTED ConferenceUber CEO Travis Kalanick

Uber hasn’t finished its investigation into its workplace culture and sexual harassment allegations, but the executives at the ride-hailing company already acknowledge that ” things fundamentally need to change.”

And on Tuesday, Uber detailed some of the big changes currently underway, including:

  • Releasing a diversity report
  • Opening an anonymous tip line for employees to air complaints
  • Holding more than 120 “listening sessions” with employees
  • Updating 1,500 job descriptions to eliminate any “unconscious bias”

“Uber is disruptive — and disruption demands the confidence to be bold. What I have seen though, is that this has translated internally to what I would call a cult of the individual,” said Uber’s chief human resources officer Liane Hornsey in a conference call with reporters on Tuesday.

“We now need to expend genuine effort ensuring the individual is never more important than the team — not ever.”

The investigation into Uber’s “aggressive” workplace culture began after a former engineer wrote a blog post detailing the sexual harassment she alleged that she faced during her year at the company. Uber immediately hired former attorney general Eric Holder to lead an independent investigation into its workplace.

Brilliant jerks

On Tuesday, Uber said it expected the investigation to conclude at the end of April and it plans to release the results of it publicly.

In the interim though, Hornsey said Uber CEO Travis Kalanick gave her full control to do what she needs to start reforming the workplace culture.

To start, Uber will release its first diversity report at the end of March, benchmarking where the company stands when it comes to hiring across departments, Hornsey said.

The company is also evaluating its performance review system that employees said focused too much on the past and not to where the company is going on the future.

“We need to change it to be a continuous rather than a heavy moment in time,” she said.

Uber also updated more than 1,500 job descriptions on its website to make sure they didn’t have unconscious bias that could unknowingly deter individuals from applying. The company is also investing heavily in training, not only on diversity but also training women in tech to be prepared to interview job candidates.

While that’s just the start, the company said it’s fully prepared to accept all the findings and recommendations from the external investigation when it concludes in April. Already, the company has had over 120 listening sessions to hear from its employees, and it opened a confidential, anonymous line to the independent investigation for staff to air complaints.

“Going forward there can be no room at Uber for brilliant jerks and zero tolerance for anything but totally respectable behaviour in an equitable workplace environment,” said Uber board member Arianna Huffington.

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