Uber’s Chief to Take Leave of Absence Amid Investigation Into Workplace Culture

2017-06-13 13:26:03

 

Uber’s Chief to Take Leave of Absence Amid Investigation Into Workplace Culture

SAN FRANCISCO — Travis Kalanick, Uber’s chief executive, will take a leave of absence from the ride-hailing company, according to an internal email sent to employees.

Mr. Kalanick said he would be taking a leave in order to work on himself and reflect on building a “world class leadership team” for the company. He did not specify how long he will take away from the company.

“The ultimate responsibility, for where we’ve gotten and how we’ve gotten here rests on my shoulders,” Mr. Kalanick wrote in the email. “There is of course much to be proud of but there is much to improve.”

Mr. Kalanick’s announcement came as recommendations to change the company were released on Tuesday. The recommendations were the result of an investigation into Uber, conducted by former Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and his law firm, Covington & Burling.

The recommendations included reviewing Mr. Kalanick’s responsibilities and reallocating them, with an increased emphasis on a chief operating officer at the company. Uber should also appoint an independent chairman and create an oversight committee on the board, in an effort to bolster the checks and balances on management, according to the recommendations.

Uber’s reputation has been tarnished in recent months because of the issues over its workplace culture, including claims around sexual harassment and discrimination. The crisis began in February, when a former employee wrote a blog post detailing what she said was a history of sexual harassment and lack of response from management at the ride-hailing company. The post set off a deluge of other complaints from staff about Uber’s culture, exposing a toxic environment.

Uber has since moved to clean up the situation. It has fired 20 employees in the last few months for transgressions including sexual harassment. Emil Michael, a top lieutenant of Mr. Kalanick’s, left the company this week. On Sunday, Uber’s board met for nearly seven hours and said it unanimously voted to adopt all of the recommendations in Mr. Holder’s report.

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