By Claire Zillman
June 22, 2017

In the early hours after CEO Travis Kalanick resigned from Uber on Tuesday, the ride-hailing company he helped found, rampant speculation about his replacement was already underway.

Here is a full list of names that have been tossed into the ring that, interestingly enough, includes five women. Bloomberg has already reported that one of them, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, is not interested in the gig.

The CEO search will likely be watched as closely as the blow-by-blow that ultimately led to Kalanick’s knock-out, but the prospect of Uber hiring a female CEO is especially intriguing since it would be a bold response (and possible antidote) to reports of Uber’s macho culture. This month alone, three new episodes have pointed to just how deep the problem runs. Eric Alexander, then Uber’s president of business in the Asia-Pacific region, was fired for reportedly obtaining the medical records of a woman who was raped by her Uber driver in India in 2014 and then showing them to other top Uber officials. Recode published a 2013 company-wide email from Kalanick in which he set ground rules for using drugs and having sex with other employees during a company retreat. And Uber board member David Bonderman resigned after making a sexist remark during a meeting to address sexism at the ride-hailing company.

Yet hiring a female CEO would be in line with a series of recent moves Uber made as its scandals ballooned. Earlier this month, Uber announced it was hiring academic Frances Frei as senior vice president of leadership and strategy. It also brought in Bozoma Saint John, an Apple executive, as chief brand officer and Nestle’s Wan Ling Martello as a director. The latter two additions were, in part, the handiwork of Arianna Huffington, who joined Uber’s board in April. The New York Times reports that the media mogul’s growing influence has helped to fill Uber’s leadership void.

Uber’s string of female hires was notable, not just because it’s facing allegations of sexism. The company’s first-ever diversity report, released in March, showed that women accounted for 36% of the company’s global employee workforce and just 22% of its leadership.

 

@clairezillman

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