Facing sexism charges, Uber says Eric Holder will investigate

The company is also planning to release detailed diversity data

Uber headquarters office San Francisco
Credit: Magdalena Petrova

Uber Technologies scrambled on Monday to counter sexism charges raised by a former employee, and said it would appoint former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to the panel that would investigate allegations that the company mishandled an engineer's complaint of sexual harassment.

The company, which did not release diversity data when asked to do so by civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson, also said Monday that 15.1 percent of its employees in engineering, product management and scientist roles are women and this has not changed substantively in the past year.

In an email to employees that was also circulated to the news media, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick wrote that he and Liane Hornsey, chief human resources officer, will be working to publish a broader diversity report for Uber in the coming months.

In her blog post, the engineer, Susan J. Fowler, has said that there had been an exodus of women in the group she worked in because of politics and the discrimination against women in upper management. This resulted, she said, in women constituting 3 percent of the 150 site reliability engineers at the time of her quitting her job in December 2016, down from 25 percent in November 2015, when she joined Uber.

Holder and his partner, Tammy Albarran, at the law firm Covington & Burling will be joined by Arianna Huffington, who sits on Uber’s board, Hornsey, and Angela Padilla, the company’s associate general counsel for an “independent review into the specific issues relating to the work place environment” raised by Fowler, Kalanick wrote.

“I believe in creating a workplace where a deep sense of justice underpins everything we do,” Kalanick wrote in the mail. But doubts have been raised on social media whether a panel largely packed with a board member and insiders can really be independent.

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