47 ways Uber is changing its culture

For Uber to get past its series of scandals and transform itself into a kinder, gentler Uber 2.0, it will likely have to follow a long and winding path.

Fortunately for the ride-hailing company, former US Attorney General Eric Holder has given it a roadmap.

On Tuesday, Uber released the report from Holder and his private law firm that was based on their months-long investigation into harassment, discrimination, and retaliation at the company. The report recommended 47 steps the company should take to turn around its culture.  

The recommendations focus on four key themes: trust, transformation, accountability, and the ‘tone at the top’. Already, Uber’s board has agreed unanimously to follow the suggestions, and CEO Travis Kalanick has taken a leave of absence, allowing the company to start with a blank slate. 

Here are all 47 recommendations — and what they mean for the $69 billion company:


Changes to leadership

Changes to leadership

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick.Reuters/Staff

• Review and reallocate the responsibilities of Travis Kalanick: While Kalanick takes time off, the company is going to divvy up some of his duties. In some cases, other executives will share those responsibilities with him. In other cases, they will take them completely off his plate.  

• Use the search for a chief operating officer to identify candidates who can help address the report’s recommendations: Uber had already been looking for a COO. Now, Uber’s board will focus on finding a candidate who can take over the running of the company’s day-to-day operations and overseeing its corporate culture.

• Use performance reviews to hold senior leaders accountable: Company leaders will be specifically assessed on their efforts to build an inclusive, happy, and diverse team. 

• Increase the profile of Uber’s head of diversity and the efforts of his organization: The head of diversity role will become a C-level position. But there’s no word on whether Bernard Coleman, who currently holds that role, will automatically be promoted. 

• Employment actions: Uber’s HR department will take certain unspecified actions delegated to it by the company’s board of directors and the special committee of the board that oversaw the investigation.

Enhance board oversight

Enhance board oversight

Uber board member Arianna Huffington.Jacopo Raule/Getty

• Enhance the independence of the board: Uber’s board is getting restructured to provide better oversight of its management team. The board will make space for new members with no ties to the company but who have previous experience as corporate directors.

• Install an independent chairperson of the board: This chairperson would fill the gap in the independent oversight of managers and show the world Uber means business when it comes to overhauling its culture. 

• Create an oversight committee: The new board committee would potentially monitor senior managers’ compliance with new company values and their commitment to promoting an ethical environment. 

• Use compensation to hold senior leaders accountable: Efforts at diversity and inclusion will become factors in executives’ compensation. Senior managers could also be put on probation until they prove they can perform. 

 • Nominate a senior executive team member to oversee implementation of any recommendations: A executive with good standing with employees will be nominated to oversee the implementation of the recommendations. 

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Internal controls

• Implement enhancements to the audit committee: Uber’s internal auditor will be able to direct employee complaints and concerns directly to a newly-empowered audit committee on the company’s board, rather than to Uber’s CEO or management team. The audit committee will have the authority to investigate and respond to such complaints. 

• Implement enhancements to Uber’s internal controls: Employees won’t get reimbursed for travel and other expensive that aren’t consistent with Uber’s policies. 

• Human resources record-keeping: A new system for tracking complaints will be able to raise red flags when multiple complaints have been lodged against particular employees or within specific divisions.  

• Track agreements with employees: Employee settlements and separation agreement will be logged to ensure consistency and compliance with their terms.

 

Reformulate Uber’s 14 cultural values

Reformulate Uber's 14 cultural values

SVP of global operations Ryan Graves shares his lunch with school kids.REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach

• Reformulate Uber’s 14 cultural values: Uber is ditching hyper aggressive values like “toe-stepping” and “principled confrontation.” Instead, Uber’s HR chief wants to emphasize teamwork, joy, and collaboration.

 

Training

Training

Uber’s head of human resources Liane Hornsey.Uber

• Mandatory leadership training for key senior management and senior executive team members: This is where Frances Frei comes in. She was hired to be SVP of leadership and strategy, and she’ll be coaching Uber’s top execs.

• Mandatory human resources training: Human resources workers will learn how to handle complaints and investigate harassment claims. 

• Mandatory manager training: A new employee coaching curriculum for managers is being piloted in the US and Canada. If things go well, the training will be rolled out globally over the next 18 months.

• Interview training: People who interview job candidates will be trained to recognize unconscious bias and will learn how to be inclusive during the interview process.

 

Improvements to human resources and the complaint process

Improvements to human resources and the complaint process

Protesters march outside of Uber’s San Francisco office.Spencer Platt/Getty Images

• An “owner” of HR-related policies be identified or hired: This person will be in charge of drafting new policies and updating current ones. 

• Increase management support for human resources: The global human resources team will continue to grow, and new senior level leaders are being brought on.

• Provide a robust and effective complaint process: Employees will be able to use the company’s “integrity hotline” to raise issues anonymously. Independent employee relations teams will also be doubled in every region.  

• Establish protocols with respect to escalating complaints: Uber has committed to keeping on top of employee complaints. “I want to be super clear, we are building a process that gives employees the ability to report issues, manage issues, and escalate concerns appropriately, and with confidence in the process,” company HR head Liane Hornsey wrote in an email to Uber employees. “You have my absolute commitment on this. We will not fail you again.”

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• Devote adequate staff and resources to human resources:  Poor performers will be “managed out” and the company will make it a priority to increasing the number of HR workers globally.

Diversity and inclusion enhancements

Diversity and inclusion enhancements

Uber employees gather at the San Francisco office.Glassdoor/Uber

• Establish an employee diversity advisory board:  Uber is trying to ensure a “deeply meaningful” approach to diversity. The company will establish an advisory board comprised of employees to give suggestions on how to improve. 

• Regularly publish diversity statistics: Diversity reports like the one already released this year will continue to come annually.

• Target diverse sources of talent: Uber will work to deepen ties with colleges that largely serve under-represented minorities and look into alternative ways to recruit new employees.  

• Utilize blind resume review: Resume reviewers won’t have access to information that might reveal the gender or race of a job candidate. And the company will try to make interview panels more diverse.

• Adopt a version of the “Rooney Rule”: One woman and one person from an under represented minority will be in the running for every job opening. 

• Adopt and promote a sponsorship program: Uber will pair junior employees with more seasoned ones to help guide their career development. The program, which the company will begin testing in the third quarter, will focus particularly on helping develop women and minority workers.

Additional diversity efforts

Additional diversity efforts

Employees at Uber’s NYC office.Hollis Johnson

• Recognize and support employee diversity efforts: Employees going above and beyond will be recognized. And the company will encourage workers to participate in efforts to improve its culture. 

• Recognize managers for their diversity efforts: The company hopes to learn from managers who are successful at diversifying their teams and use their examples to train other managers.

• Review benefits offerings: Uber wants to “grow” with its employees. It opened 24 Mothers Rooms, launched its first ever Global Wellness Day, and introduced “Care” rooms in its San Francisco offices. Employees will also get 15 free Uber rides a month. 

• Unconscious bias review: Inclusion workshops have already been introduced. If Uber meets its goals, 90% of managers will be trained by the end of the year. 

• Coordinate efforts: Offices can’t start their own diversity initiatives without approval from the Head of Diversity. 

• Solicit feedback from employees: Starting June 19, employees will receive surveys to measure “employee sentiment.”

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Changes in employee policies and practices

Changes in employee policies and practices

A beer tap in the New York office.Hollis Johnson

• EEO policies: Discrimination and harassment polices are getting an update. Managers will now be required to report harassment issues, and employees will be protected from discrimination — even if that discrimination is legal.

• Prohibit romantic or intimate relationships between individuals in a reporting relationship: Employees who get involved in relationships with their managers, they are required to report the situation. Uber knows it can’t put a stop to all workplace romance, but is trying to make clear any form of relationship related harassment is prohibited. 

• Institute and enforce clear guidelines on alcohol consumption and the use of controlled substances: The workplace party is over. Drinking during work hours is now prohibited, and alcohol budgets for after-hours work events are being cut. 

• Remove transfer barriers: It will now be easier for employees to move around within the company. 

 

More changes to employee policies and practices

More changes to employee policies and practices

Budgets for alcohol at company parties like this one are getting slashed.Uber

• Modify Uber’s performance review process: Employees will set personal goals, get more feedback from their managers, and not be pressured to compete with each other.

• Make promotion requirements clearer: Uber knows there is no “silver bullet” here, but wants to make sure employees and managers have a general idea of the requirements and guidelines. 

• Flexible work: Employees with kids or long commutes will be able to work from home, and employees around the globe will have more flexible hours. 

• Catered dinner: The employee dinner will be served at 7 p.m instead of 8:15 p.m. to better accommodate those with families.

• Even application of policies and practices: New policies will be apply to everyone regardless of tenure or level. 

 

Address employee retention

Address employee retention

A man arrives at the Uber offices in New York.Thomson Reuters

• Address employee retention: Uber will start acknowledging employees have a life outside of work and support finding a work-life balance.

Review and assess Uber’s pay practices

Review and assess Uber's pay practices

An employee inside of the office.Glassdoor/Uber

• Review and assess Uber’s pay practices: Uber is getting audited by an outside firm, and senior management is in charge of setting the tone around support for equal pay polices.

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