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Uber CEO Travis Kalanick Apologizes for Company Culture in ‘Raw and Emotional’ All-Hands Meeting

Feb 22, 2017

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick apologized for the company's culture on Tuesday after a former software developer claimed she was sexually harassed and discriminated against while working there.

The apology came during an all-hands meeting which Kalanick led, alongside board member Arianna Huffington and Uber's head of human resources, Bloomberg reports. The meeting reportedly lasted over an hour and was, participants told The Verge, "honest, raw, and emotional." According to Bloomberg, which cited people who watched the event, Kalanick also apologized for the "lack of diversity in the company's workforce and for not properly responding to employee complaints."

"Travis spoke very honestly about the mistakes he’s made—and about how he wants to take the events of the last 48-hours to build a better Uber. It was great to see employees holding managers accountable. I also view it as my responsibility to hold the leadership team’s feet to the fire on this issue," Huffington wrote in a company blog post after the meeting. "Change doesn’t usually happen without a catalyst. I hope that by taking the time to understand what’s gone wrong and fixing it we can not only make Uber better but also contribute to improvements for women across the industry."

Over the weekend, former software developer Susan Fowler wrote a blog post where she disclosed she had been sexually harassed during her year at Uber. “It was clear that he was trying to get me to have sex with him, and it was so clearly out of line that I immediately took screenshots of these chat messages and reported him to HR,” Fowler wrote.

The company's HR director attempted to protect her alleged harasser, Fowler claimed, telling her "even though this was clearly sexual harassment and he was propositioning me, it was this man's first offense, and that they wouldn't feel comfortable giving him anything other than a warning and a stern talking-to," she wrote.

After the allegations, Bloomberg reports that former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is working with the company to lead an investigation into her claims.

This is the latest development in what has led to "bleak employee morale," one employee told Bloomberg. Just last month, Uber was under fire after the ride-hailing company turned off surge pricing for trips to New York's JFK Airport amid protests of Trump's immigration ban—leading to the #DeleteUber as customers saw Uber's actions as a sign of support for Trump's executive order. Kalanick was also criticized for being apart of Trump's business advisory board, though he later stepped down.

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