Uber's chief technology officer, who an ex-employee publicly accused of ignoring her complaints about workplace sexism, told his team on Sunday night in an email obtained by BuzzFeed News that "I take all concerns raised to me extremely seriously."
After ex-Uber engineer Susan Fowler published a blog post in February alleging a culture of systemic sexual harassment and discrimination at the company, Uber launched two internal investigations. One, led by former attorney general Eric Holder, investigated the company's workplace environment, and the other was focused on Fowler's claims and led by the law firm Perkins Coie. Though Fowler did not name Uber CTO Thuan Pham directly in her blog post, she wrote that she reported her concerns to Uber's CTO but that he didn't act on her complaints.
"Less than a week after this absurd meeting, my manager scheduled a 1:1 with me, and told me we needed to have a difficult conversation. He told me I was on very thin ice for reporting his manager to HR. California is an at-will employment state, he said, which means we can fire you if you ever do this again. I told him that was illegal, and he replied that he had been a manager for a long time, he knew what was illegal, and threatening to fire me for reporting things to HR was not illegal. I reported his threat immediately after the meeting to both HR and to the CTO: they both admitted that this was illegal, but none of them did anything. (I was told much later that they didn't do anything because the manager who threatened me 'was a high performer')." — Susan Fowler
Some Uber employees have wondered how Pham was able to emerge unscathed from the Holder investigation, despite Fowler pinpointing him in her blog post. The Information reported on Friday that the investigation into Fowler's claims "turned up evidence that helped Mr. Pham keep his job." Fowler declined to comment to BuzzFeed News.
Following the internal investigations, Uber's board said it voted unanimously to adopt all the recommendations in Holder's report. Uber said earlier this month that it had fired 20 people for issues ranging from discrimination and harassment to bullying. The company said it intends to rewrite its cultural values and implement dozens of changes recommended by Holder's law firm as it seeks to improve its culture. Amid the fallout from the investigations, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick resigned last week. The ride-hail giant's board is now searching for a new top executive.
Uber declined to comment on Pham's email.
Here's the email Pham sent to engineering staff:
Subject: Moving forward together
The last few months have been difficult for everyone at Uber. We've all faced questions from friends and family about our values, our team, and our work environment.
While we need to be respectful about discussing matters that affect people's privacy and not impact the confidentiality of our HR complaint process, I want to explain how I personally have been involved in the investigations.
Perkins Coie spent nearly four months deeply investigating claims. Like some of you, I was interviewed and provided many documents and emails to Perkins. I firmly believe and applaud Bobbie Wilson, the partner at Perkins Coie, when she stood in front of the entire company declaring that the investigation simply followed all the facts, and spared no one from the accountability of wrongdoing.
I hope you are reassured by what Ms. Wilson said on stage, and believe in the integrity of the investigation and its outcome.
I hope that you are also reassured when Liane followed by saying that Uber acted on all of Perkins' recommendations, quickly and definitively.
I take all concerns raised to me extremely seriously, no matter someone's tenure, level or performance. Without fail–and as we should all do–I have referred and will continue to refer all allegations of wrongdoing to the HR team for investigation, and to take disciplinary actions as appropriate.
If you have any questions or concerns, please let me know and I'll be happy to meet and talk about it. My door is always open.
As we move forward, we will not forget the experiences of the last difficult months. I pledge my continuing and uncompromising commitment to you individually and to us as a team. My experience teaches me that when we build software, it lasts but only for a few years. When we build an individual's talents we create something that can last a lifetime and can change the world. Let's do this together.