Does anyone remember why Dara Khosrowshahi was brought on to replace Travis Kalanick in Uber? Yes? No? Well here is the reason, way back in 2017 an Uber engineer named Susan Fowler published her accounts of how Uber was a culture of racial and sexual discrimination and that the company preferred White Males executives and paid white males and Asians more than they paid anyone else in the same role.
This report led to an internal investigation fueled by public outcry, and the result was an ousting of Kalanick from his CEO position, and his replacement with Dara Khosrowshahi who was headhunted from his CEO position in Expedia.
Photo courtesy of https://ladyeng.uber.com/ghc
The Fowler account led to a class action lawsuit representing 420 engineers in Uber that were women or non-white claiming that Uber's payment system was racially and sexually discriminatory.
The suit was filed in October 2017 and was initially filed by three plaintiffs, Ingrid Avendano, Ana Medina and Roxana Del Toro Lopez, all three of whom worked with Fowler in the same department.
The attorney representing the plaintiffs, Jahan Sagafi, stated his opinion to the media about Uber's decision to settle "This is a very strong settlement that provides real value to class members for the discrimination and harassment they suffered while ensuring that Uber reforms its employment practices to prevent future discrimination and harassment. We look forward to monitoring those reforms until late 2021."
The Judge has yet to accept the settlement, and his decision will be based on the current performance in Uber as well as the agreement on both sides.
An Uber spokesperson stated "This settlement involves claims dating back to July 2013 and, while we are continually improving as a company, we have proactively made a lot of changes since then. In the past year alone, we have implemented a new salary and equity structure based on the market, overhauled our performance review process, published our first Diversity & Inclusion report and created and delivered diversity and leadership training to thousands of employees globally."
Before Uber hired Khosrowshahi, they employed Bozoma Saint John, an African American expert in Branding to lead the new Uber Branding process as well as take on Iranian born Dara Khosrowshahi as their CEO. Uber recently published a report on its new culture and HR hiring methods, taking into account the balance between the best person for the role, the racial and sexual balance in employment and the payment restructure to meet criticism head on.
Here's the proposed settlement agreement:
My take: There is no "best" person for the job, there are a number of "best" people to choose from, each one brings something personally "best" with them. There are usually two or three candidates with high pedigrees of success that can take on an executive position, and unless the society is 100% white male, most candidate mixes will include enough racial diversity to provide a cultural mix suitable to a liberal society. This is only one side of the issue, the other side is payment, and in this case, there is a definite global awareness that women earn less then men in many similar roles, it is not an Uber thing, it is a global cultural thing, and its good that Uber will be one of the leaders in eradicating this imbalance in society.