INNOVATION

Uber Needs To Do Better When It Comes To Diversity

Just like the rest of the tech industry.

29/03/2017 9:06 AM AEDT | Updated 29/03/2017 9:16 AM AEDT

After years of keeping its diversity data hidden away, Uber released its first diversity report Tuesday, under the direction of its new Chief Human Resources Officer Liane Hornsey.

The report revealed that Uber employees are mostly white and mostly male, especially at the more senior levels of the company. A full 78 percent of Uber’s workers at the director level or above are men, and 76.7 percent of the company leadership is white.

Tuesday’s disclosure is part of a concerted PR effort to right the ship at the company after a series of scandals. Uber has faced allegations of rampant sexual harassment from former employees; a high-profile lawsuit that contends Uber stole trade secrets from a Google-founded competitor; numerous high-profile departures; and a video showing CEO Travis Kalanick telling off a driver.

“​This report is a first step in showing that diversity and inclusion is a priority at Uber,” Kalanick said in a statement. “I know that we have been too slow in publishing our numbers — and that the best way to demonstrate our commitment to change is through transparency.”

Still, as dismal as Uber’s numbers are, Business Insider notes they’re slightly better than several other top companies in Silicon Valley.

Overall, 63.9 percent of Uber’s workers are male, and 36.1 percent are female. That’s not great, but it’s still slightly ahead of Facebook (33 percent women), Apple (32 percent), Google (31 percent) and Microsoft (25.8 percent).

In tech positions, however ― where Silicon Valley struggles as a whole ― women make up just 15.4 percent of Uber’s workforce.

Compared to the above companies, Uber also has a (slightly) more racially diverse employee base, with 49.8 percent of employees identifying as white, 30.9 percent identifying as Asian, 8.8 percent black, 5.6 percent Hispanic, 4.3 percent identifying as “two or more races,” and 0.6 percent identifying as “other.”

Again, not great, but still ahead of the companies listed above and Silicon Valley overall.

Uber
Uber -- and the rest of Silicon Valley -- have a lot of work to do when it comes to diversity.

For comparison’s sake, as of June 2016, Apple’s U.S. workforce was 56 percent white (a 2 percent increase from 2015), 19 percent Asian, 12 percent Hispanic, and 9 percent black (up 1 percent).

In a release accompanying Tuesday’s report, Uber also noted it’s making an effort to hire more women and people of color. 

That includes ramping up recruitment efforts at historically black colleges and universities and Hispanic-serving institutions, and pledging to spend $3 million over the next three years to help boost the ranks of women and minorities in tech overall. 

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Uber board member Arianna Huffington are also conducting an independent investigation into the various sexual harassment claims at the company. (Huffington, previously the editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, stepped down from her role last year.) And last week, Uber made three female executives at the company available for a conversation with reporters.

But there’s clearly much more work to be done.

“Every strength, in excess, is a weakness,” Hornsey told The New York Times. “What has driven Uber to immense success — its aggression, the hard-charging attitude — has toppled over. And it needs to be shaved back.”

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