Uber Adds Two Women to Top Ranks Amid Work Culture Scrutiny

  • Uber names HBS professor Frances Frei as senior vice president
  • The two executives bring needed diversity to top ranks

How Uber's Controversial CEO Built an Empire

Uber Technologies Inc., which has been criticized as having a workplace hostile to women, hired two senior female executives to fill a void left by recent departures and inject more diversity into its top ranks.

The company said it’s bringing on Apple Inc. executive Bozoma Saint John as chief brand officer. Harvard Business School Professor Frances Frei will also join Uber, serving as senior vice present for leadership and strategy, reporting to Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick.

“Boz has a long track record of successfully creating emotional connections between people and the products they love,” Kalanick said in an emailed statement. “Her creativity and deep understanding of consumers will allow us to build the same love and appreciation for Uber’s brand as we’ve built for Uber’s service.”

Bozoma Saint John

Photographer: Joe Maher/Getty Images

Saint John, who will be Uber’s highest-ranking black executive, joined Apple in April 2014 as head of global consumer marketing for iTunes and Beats Music. She previously worked as the head of music and entertainment marketing for PepsiCo Inc.

The appointments were previously reported by technology websites Recode and TechCrunch. Axios previously reported that Saint John would leave Apple.

While the hirings are a welcome sign, Uber is awaiting the results of an investigation into the company’s culture by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Holder recently concluded his inquiry. A subcommittee of Uber’s board of directors is reviewing the findings, which haven’t yet been made public.

“My goal is to make this a world-class company that can be proud of itself in the end, rather than embarrassed,” Frei told Recode. She is the author of the book “Uncommon Service: How to Win By Putting Customers at the Core of Your Business,” and plans to commute from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to San Francisco.

The hiring of Frei and Saint John comes as Uber searches for a chief operating officer. Uber’s heads of finance, growth, engineering, and policy and communications have all left the company in the past few months.

For more on diversity in Silicon Valley, check out the Decrypted podcast:

Uber’s former President Jeff Jones, who came to Uber after working as the chief marketing officer at Target, left Uber in March after just six months. Unlike Saint John, who will have a more narrowly defined role, Jones was put in charge of the company’s entire ride-hailing business.

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