Uber has been in the news cycle all week — and not for the right reasons.
On Sunday, ex-Uber engineer Susan J. Fowler accused the tech giant for sexual harassment. This prompted Uber CEO Travis Kalanick to call the actions described in Fowler’s blog post “abhorrent and against everything we believe in.” On Monday, Kalanick announced that he hired former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate the claims. The hashtag #DeleteUber picked up again on social media in response to the allegations. On Tuesday, Kalanick apologized for the company culture during a “raw and emotional” all-hands staff meeting.
And then on Thursday, Google’s self-driving business Waymo slapped Uber with a lawsuit for patent infringement and stealing trade secrets. As a result, several public figures have spoken out in response to Uber’s turbulent week.
Here’s what business leaders are saying:
Ellen Pao, venture partner at Kapor Capital and former Reddit CEO
In a TIME op-ed published on Thursday, Pao writes that discrimination and exclusion have become core to the identity of the technology industry. “Still, the fact that tech is this broken doesn’t give any company a free pass,” writes Pao. “We see you, Uber.”
She lauds Fowler for sharing her story and hopes that it inspires more people to speak up about similar experiences they’ve faced in the workplace. “Five years ago, people didn’t share their stories with anyone; then they started talking privately,” Pao adds. “Now for the first time a public sharing has received broad public support and a quick company apology in response.”
Mitch and Freada Kapor, Kapor Capital partners and early Uber investors
Venture capitalists Mitch and Freada Kapor wrote an open letter to Uber saying that they are “disappointed and frustrated,” and they feel they have “hit a dead end in trying to influence the company quietly from the inside.”
The duo also expressed concern about the three leaders tapped to conduct the internal investigation: Holder, Arianna Huffington, and Liane Hornsey. Holder has been working on behalf of Uber since last June, Huffington is an Uber board member, and Hornsey is the chief human resources officer who reports to Travis’s executive team.
“We are disappointed to see that Uber has selected a team of insiders to investigate its destructive culture and make recommendations for change,” the letter states. “This group is not set up to come up with an accurate analysis of the culture and a tough set of recommendations.”
Arianna Huffington, serial entrepreneur and Uber board member
Huffington, who has been on Uber’s board for almost a year, issued a brief statement following the all-hands company meeting. She says the staff spent over an hour discussing issues surrounding women in the workplace. Huffington added that it’s her responsibility to hold the Uber leadership team accountable during the internal review. “Change doesn’t usually happen without a catalyst,” she writes. “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.”
Sarah Friar, Square chief financial officer
Sexism in the tech industry is “absolutely a systemic problem,” Friar said during a CNBC interview. Prior to her role at Square, Friar worked at Goldman Sachs (GS) for 10 years. She adds that the problem isn’t exclusive to Silicon Valley. “It’s systemic across multiple industries and I think we all have to admit that there’s a problem and that will be the beginning of planning a solution.”