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Uber Pays the Price (adapted from Principles of Management, Rice University, Ope

by | Jun 22, 2022 | Business and Management | 0 comments

 

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Uber Pays the Price
(adapted from Principles of Management, Rice University, OpenStax)
In March 2009, Uber revolutionized the taxi industry and the way people commute. With the simple mission “to bring transportation—for everyone, everywhere,” today Uber has reached a valuation of around $70 billion and claimed a market share high of almost 90% in 2015. However, in June 2017 Uber experienced a series of bad press regarding an alleged culture of sexual harassment, which is what most experts believe caused their market share to fall to 75%.
In February of 2017 a former software engineer, Susan Fowler, wrote a lengthy post on her website regarding her experience of being harassed by a manager who was not disciplined by human resources for his behavior. In her post, Fowler wrote that Uber’s HR department and members of upper management told her that because it was the man’s first offense, they would only give him a warning. During her meeting with HR about the incident, Fowler was also advised that she should transfer to another department within the organization. According to Fowler, she was ultimately left no choice but to transfer to another department, despite having specific expertise in the department in which she had originally been working.
As her time at the company went on, she began meeting other women who worked for the company who relayed their own stories of harassment. To her surprise, many of the women reported being harassed by the same person who had harassed her. As she noted in her blog, “It became obvious that both HR and management had been lying about this being his ‘first offense.’” Fowler also reported a number of other instances that she identified as sexist and inappropriate within the organization and claims that she was disciplined severely for continuing to speak out. Fowler eventually left Uber after about two years of working for the company, noting that during her time at Uber the percentage of women working there had dropped to 6% of the workforce, down from 25% when she first started.
Following the fallout from Fowler’s lengthy description of the workplace on her website, Uber’s chief executive Travis Kalanick publicly condemned the behavior described by Fowler, calling it “abhorrent and against everything Uber stands for and believes in.” But later in March, Uber board member Arianna Huffington claimed that she believed “sexual harassment was not a systemic problem at the company.” Amid pressure from bad media attention and the company’s falling market share, Uber made some changes after an independent investigation resulted in 215 complaints. As a result, 20 employees were fired for reasons ranging from sexual harassment to bullying to retaliation to discrimination, and Kalanick announced that he would hire a chief operating officer to help manage the company. In an effort to provide the leadership team with more diversity, two senior female executives were hired to fill the positions of chief brand officer and senior vice president for leadership and strategy.
Would this trend have changed if workers were classified as employees verses independent contractors? In 2018, California’s Supreme Court ruled that workers performing tasks within a company’s regular business must be treated as employees. Laws were updated in 2019; however, “California voters carried … a ballot measure that allows gig economy companies to continue treating drivers as independent contractors… [with] a concession to labor advocates, the initiative offers a wage floor and limited benefits to drivers” (Conger, 2020). We’ll see if that changes anything.
Case Study Questions: (edited from original text)
Based on Taylor Cox and Stacy Blake’s business case for diversity, what are some positive outcomes that may result in changes to Uber’s leadership team?
Under what form of federal legislation was Fowler protected?
What strategies should have been put in place to help prevent sexual harassment incidents like this from happening in the first place?
Do you believe that diversity and harassment improve when workers are legally classified as employees or independent contractors as this new gig-economy grows?
Guidelines:
This assignment is considered a complete Business Case Study. Therefore, your report should be written as a formal business report of your analysis.
This report should be between 2-4 pages (not including title page and references).
Internal references (e.g. textbook, readings, lectures, etc.) and External references (e.g. other published works) should be used to add credibility to your statements.
To be professional, always write in a formal style (e.g. using impersonal nouns such as “the team”, “the analysis” and “this project”, while avoiding personal pronouns such as I, we, you, he, she, and they)
As this is a real-time analysis, write in the present tense to describe your findings and recommended actions (except when describing past events).
Current APA format is required, including title page and reference page
Use Headings and Sub-headings as appropriate
Exception: DO NOT include an Abstract or Table of Contents for this short report
DO NOT cite your own information (personal or corporate), which is everything provided in the Case Study (if details or data are provided)
NU Library resource for APA guidance: https://nu.libguides.com/citations/APA
Sources:
Uber (2017). Corporate Website. https://www.uber.com/newsroom/company-info/
Fowler, S. (2017, Feb 19). Reflecting On One Very, Very Strange Year At Uber. https://www.susanjfowler.com/blog/2017/2/19/reflecting-on-one-very-strange-year-at-uber
Lien, T. (2017, Jun 6). Uber fires 20 workers after harassment investigation. Los Angeles Times. http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-tn-uber-sexual-harassment-20170606-story.html
della Cava, M. (2017, June 13). Uber has lost market share to Lyft during crisis. USA Today. https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2017/06/13/uber-market-share-customer-image-hit-string-scandals/102795024/
Conger, K. (2020, Nov 4). Uber and Lyft Drivers in California Will Remain Contractors, The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/04/technology/california-uber-lyft-prop-22.html

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