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Former Attorney General Eric Holder Will Lead Investigation Into Sexism At Uber

Holder previously advocated on the company's behalf, calling on local officials to not require fingerprint-based background checks of drivers.

Posted on February 20, 2017, at 7:41 p.m. ET

Eric Risberg / AP

After a former employee described sexism and management issues at Uber, the company announced that former Attorney General Eric Holder will lead an investigation.

Holder, who now works at law firm Covington and Burling, will lead the review with fellow partner Tammy Albarran, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said in a memo to employees on Monday. They will be joined by Arianna Huffington, who is a member of Uber's board; Chief Human Resources Officer Liane Hornsey; and the company's general counsel.

"It’s been a tough 24 hours," Kalanick wrote. "I know the company is hurting, and understand everyone has been waiting for more information on where things stand and what actions we are going to take."

The plans come after a former employee published a blog post on Sunday detailing patterns of sexual harassment, sexism, and Game of Thrones-like politics among managers. Susan Fowler, an engineer who left the company in December, said that not only did her reports to the HR department lead to no action, but she was also threatened that she could lose her job for speaking up.

On Sunday, Kalanick said he had not previously been aware of the issues she described and promised an urgent investigation. On Monday, he told employees that Holder and the team would conduct an "independent review" into the issues raised by Fowler as well as diversity and inclusion more broadly.

In June, Holder wrote letters on behalf of Uber to local officials advocating against fingerprint-based background checks for drivers, The Hill reported. At that time, his law firm described Uber as a client. Margaret Richardson, Holder's former chief of staff and now also a Covington employee, sits on Uber's safety advisory board.

Read the full Uber memo here:

Team,

It’s been a tough 24 hours. I know the company is hurting, and understand everyone has been waiting for more information on where things stand and what actions we are going to take.

First, Eric Holder, former US Attorney General under President Obama, and Tammy Albarran -- both partners at the leading law firm Covington & Burling-- will conduct an independent review into the specific issues relating to the work place environment raised by Susan Fowler, as well as diversity and inclusion at Uber more broadly. Joining them will be Arianna Huffington, who sits on Uber’s board, Liane Hornsey, our recently hired Chief Human Resources Officer, and Angela Padilla, our Associate General Counsel. I expect them to conduct this review in short order.

Second, Arianna is flying out to join me and Liane at our all hands meeting tomorrow to discuss what’s happened and next steps. Arianna and Liane will also be doing smaller group and one-on-one listening sessions to get your feedback directly.

Third, there have been many questions about the gender diversity of Uber’s technology teams. If you look across our engineering, product management, and scientist roles, 15.1% of employees are women and this has not changed substantively in the last year. As points of reference, Facebook is at 17%, Google at 18% and Twitter is at 10%. Liane and I will be working to publish a broader diversity report for the company in the coming months.

I believe in creating a workplace where a deep sense of justice underpins everything we do. Every Uber employee should be proud of the culture we have and what we will build together over time. What is driving me through all this is a determination that we take what’s happened as an opportunity to heal wounds of the past and set a new standard for justice in the workplace. It is my number one priority that we come through this a better organization, where we live our values and fight for and support those who experience injustice.

Thanks,

Travis


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