Uber board member Arianna Huffington doesn’t think sexism is a problem at the ride-hailing company.
Speaking to CNN, the businesswoman said that she and the head of Uber’s HR have “talked to hundreds of women… about the changes they want to see.” The company “unquestionably” had some bad apples, Huffington added, but “[sexism] is not a systemic problem, and what is important is the structures that were not in place are now being put in place to make sure women, minorities, everyone feels completely comfortable at Uber.”
Huffington joined Uber’s board of directors in April 2016. Her comments come after company president Jeff Jones, a marketing expert hired to help soften Uber’s often abrasive image, announced his departure less than seven months after joining the San Francisco company.
Uber has been plagued with a series of PR disasters over the past few weeks, including the publication last month of a blog post by former employee Susan Fowler. She describes a workplace where sexual harassment was common and went unpunished, a picture often painted across the tech industry. A 2016 women in tech survey found that 60% of the more-than-200 female participants had experienced unwanted sexual advances. Additionally, 65% of the respondents said that at least one advance came from a superior.
While Uber’s controversies have called into question chief executive Travis Kalanick’s leadership capabilities and the company’s future into question, Huffington told CNN that Kalanick must “absolutely not” step down.
“I think Travis is at the heart and soul of Uber and if he had not acknowledged mistakes, if he had not been willing to make change, that would have been another story,” she said. “But we cannot judge people by their worst moments.”
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