Uber Report Shows Diversity Deficit in Leadership, Engineering

How Uber's Controversial CEO Built an Empire

After an onslaught of sexual discrimination claims and other scandals, Uber Technologies Inc. released its first diversity report on Tuesday. The data show the San Francisco-based ride-hailing company trails peers in terms of women in leadership or technical roles.

Women represent 22 percent of Uber’s leadership team and 15 percent of tech jobs. Other Silicon Valley companies that report their demographic data are several percentage points higher in those categories. The data show that 36 percent of Uber’s global employees are women, which is about in line with its peers.

Uber said it’s seeking advice from inclusion experts and will spend $3 million over the next three years to support organizations focused on women and minorities in tech. The company said it improved its gender diversity last year, when 41 percent of new employees were women.

“This report is a first step in showing that diversity and inclusion is a priority at Uber,” Travis Kalanick, Uber’s co-founder and chief executive officer, said in a statement. “I know that we have been too slow in publishing our numbers -- and that the best way to demonstrate our commitment to change is through transparency.”

The tech industry has long been dominated by white and Asian men, especially in technical and management positions. Under sustained criticism to address gender and racial disparities, more companies began releasing diversity statistics in 2014.

Uber’s headcount has nearly doubled each year since then, exceeding 12,000 today. But the eight-year-old company had resisted collecting or reporting the data, despite requests from its own employees to do so. Even staff focused on diversity recruiting had no access to demographic data, Bloomberg reported last week. Kalanick, 40, has said he wants to find the “best minds” and resisted the idea of prioritizing based on race or gender.

Susan Fowler, a former Uber software developer, wrote a blog post last month alleging that her manager had propositioned her and that the human resources department said it wouldn’t punish him. She also described widespread sexism.

Uber hired Eric Holder, the former U.S. attorney general, to help investigate the harassment claims and work culture. It also said at the time that it would finally release diversity stats. Liane Hornsey, the recently appointed chief human resources officer, said last week that Uber has rewritten 1,500 job postings to remove potential biases. She is arranging training programs and will ensure the company’s panel of interviewers is more diverse.

The diversity report from Uber offers more granular detail than the norm. For example, 15 percent of U.S. employees have work visas and hail from 71 countries. Lyft Inc., the main Uber competitor in the U.S., has said it will release its own diversity data in the coming weeks.

Uber’s racial makeup is similar to the rest of the Valley. People of white or Asian descent make up 94 percent of Uber’s technical staff in the U.S. Among all of its American workers, 8.8 percent are black and 5.6 percent are Hispanic. Slightly more than half of Uber’s employees are outside the U.S.

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