Back in the fall, we gave our Bad Corporate Behavior award to Samsung. This month, we’re tackling a company that just can’t seem to stay out of the headlines: Uber. From connections to President Donald Trump’s advisory board to accusations of sexism and harassment, Uber has weathered a fair share of criticism as of late.
No tech company wants to find themselves on the other end of a campaign by users to delete their product, and yet there’s a large group coalescing under the hashtag #DeleteUber. It seems that the outrage is justified.
The #DeleteUber Twitter campaign was well-deserved after Uber undercut a protest condemning President Trump’s controversial immigrant ban. The ride-sharing service was fully operational to and from the JFK airport, where the New York Taxi Workers Alliance (NYTWA) were holding an hour-long strike against the ban. Not only did Uber profit off of the decreased taxi availability but they negated surge-pricing at JFK after the strike ended, snatching more business from the defeated NYTWA as they then returned to work. Low blow, Uber.
Undermining the impacts of a legitimate taxi strike is bad enough, but Uber has also been on the receiving end of accusations of sexism in the work environment. Ex-Uber employee Susan Fowler reported a sexist work culture that included being propositioned for sex by a manager, not receiving a company-wide gift that went to over 120 men and being threatened with termination after reporting these issues to HR. Which is illegal, by the way. SexismInTech.Sucks—no one should have to deal with that kind of treatment.
Amidst a turbulent American election and subsequent presidency, it’s not surprising that many users were rattled to find out that CEO Travis Kalanick was on President Donald Trump’s advisory board. The hypocrisy is clear: Kalanick claims that many currently employed Uber drivers would be hurt by the ban, while supporting the person behind the order. Other services, such as Lyft, came out in vocal opposition to President Trump’s immigration ban, prompting Twitter users to adapt a new hashtag: #SupportLyft. Kalanick eventually responded to the outrage, promising a $3 million legal defense fund to those affected by the ban, but many customers saw this as a reaction to the controversy rather than a gesture of genuine good faith. InsincereAltruism.Sucks, and we’re calling your bluff, Kalanick.
And let’s not forget the childish tirade Kalanick inflicted upon a driver with a justifiable concern about the company’s standards and pricing. Caught on camera, the driver, Fawzi Kamel, states to Kalanick that “You’re raising the standards, and you’re dropping the prices.” This seems like a reasonable concern that deserves, at the very least, a thoughtful and reassuring response. Instead, Kalanick berates the driver, shouting: “B****, some people don’t like to take responsibility for their own sh*t. They blame everything in their life on somebody else. Good luck!” This kind of behaviour is unacceptable under any circumstance, including when it’s coming from the top of the food chain. Company leaders need to hold themselves to higher standards, and although Kalanick later apologized for the remarks, it’s clear that the cultural damage at Uber has already been done.
Spiralling from a revolutionary ride-sharing start-up to a company so mired in controversy that it’s own president stepped down, Uber is a classic lesson of what not to do when running a company. Just one of the above infractions would be enough to justify giving Uber a Bad Corporate Behaviour Award, but they really went above and beyond to suck.
If you agree that Uber is the worst, or want to bemoan the insipid behavior at your own company, why not tell the world about it? Consider purchasing BrokenCompanyCulture.Sucks and collecting stories from the battlefield to help take a stance against everything we’re trying to denounce as a society. Join the conversation today.
Photos: Shutterstock / Prathan Chorruangsak, Shutterstock / DayOwl, Shutterstock / NYCStock, Shutterstock / Roman Tiraspolsky