Call it the effect of the cutthroat competition. Or just a tone-deaf culture that seem to pervade some Silicon Valley companies. But after incident of a rape in one of its cars in Delhi area, Uber initially doubted any such incident had taken place. Instead, it seemed to believe that the incident was cooked up by Ola, its chief rival in India, to malign its image.
To investigate the matter Eric Alexander, Uber’s president of business in Asia, took the lead and sought details of the incident, including medical records of the rape victim.
According to the New York Times, Eric Alexander, who was a trusted lieutenant of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, was no longer with the company. He has been reportedly fired over his handling of the rape incident in Delhi after Uber leadership realised how insensitive it was to investigate the rape victim.
The NYT report notes that Alexander spent months in India investigating the rape incident and seeking details of the victim. He also reportedly believed that the woman had a made the fake complaint and that the whole incident was nothing but an attempt to derail the business of Uber that he was trying to grow aggressively in India.
In 2014, a woman had alleged that she was raped by an Uber driver. The incident led to the Delhi government banning Uber briefly in the city and highlighted that Uber was probably not doing enough to screen its driver partners. The incident also highlighted that Uber had mechanism to deal with the distress calls with even cops had to find the office of Uber after hailing an Uber ride and asking the driver to go the place where he would meet Uber employees.
After the incident Uber – and Ola – put in place new procedures to deal with incidents of crime in their cabs. They started working with cops more closely as well as established procedure to intervene in case they see something going wrong.
However, the new of Alexander’s firing couldn’t have come at worse time for Uber. The company just a day ago said that it has fired 20 executives over allegations of workplace harassment and the misconduct including sexual harassment. Critics say that in Uber there is a culture of workplace malpractices and that it stems from the top. Uber in recent days has vowed to clean up its workplace and has hired Eric Holder, former US attorney general, to lead a probe into its workplace practices.
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