Uber Sounds Like A Bad Place to Work

More unsurprising news from that ride-sharing app.

Photo: mapbox

In the wake of former Uber employee Susan J. Fowler’s blog post that revealed the appalling sexism behind the scenes of Uber, the New York Times published a closer look at what looks to be an extremely toxic and difficult work environment.

Mike Isaac pored through internal emails, chat logs and interviewed over 30 Uber employees for the story and the picture he paints of the inner workings is distressing and somehow completely unsurprising. Uber’s company culture has been one of aggressive growth and expansion — that urgent need to be the best and the brightest has created a work environment that sounds stressful at best and toxic at worst, like Westworld in an office setting.

One Uber manager groped female co-workers’ breasts at a company retreat in Las Vegas. A director shouted a homophobic slur at a subordinate during a heated confrontation in a meeting. Another manager threatened to beat an underperforming employee’s head in with a baseball bat.

Fueled by the desire to grow, grow, grow while also staying true to their 14 core company values that included “always be hustlin’” and being “obsessed” with the customer, management at the company acted on their most id-like impulses in order to get ahead. The easiest way to do that? Eliminate any oversight from upper management and allow the managers of the various offices to run their branches like their own little countries.

Other fun facts: members of management that were close to Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick, were protected from scrutiny and never really held accountable for any questionable actions; at an all-hands meeting in Vegas in 2015, a male manager groped three female employees. It’s fine! Beyoncé performed! Everything was paid for! That makes it better, right?

It’s like an episode of Silicon Valley, but darker, unrelenting and real, the seedy counterpart to the workplace described in this essay by Anna Wiener at n+1.

WE HIRE AN ENGINEER fresh out of a top undergraduate program. She walks confidently into the office, springy and enthusiastic. We’ve all been looking forward to having a woman on our engineering team. It’s a big moment for us. Her onboarding buddy brings her around to make introductions, and as they approach our corner, my coworker leans over and cups his hand around my ear: as though we are colluding, as though we are 5 years old. “I feel sorry,” he says, his breath moist against my neck. “Everyone’s going to hit on her.”

How will they solve this problem? How will Uber fix itself?

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