Uber Exec: Bonus System That Gives Biggest Rewards To People Who Work 70-Hour Weeks Is ‘Inequitable At Its Core’

October 19, 2017, 7:54 PM UTC
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The last nine months for Uber have been publicly painful, but the company’s global director of people experiences, Jessica Bryndza, looks at them more as growing pains.

She joined the company just before Susan Fowler’s post about sexism went viral, when she thought controversy over Travis Kalanick’s participation in White House advisory council was the most pressing issue she’d have to tackle.

“I thought ‘This is either the best decision I ever made or the worst.’ And it’s been the best,” she said earlier this week at the Life@work conference held in Brooklyn.

After working for well-loved brands like American Express and Google, she was hesitant to take a job with a company that, even before the more recent scandals, had a different kind of reputation.

“[In Silicon Valley] we worship tech executives — it’s really gross sometimes to be honest,” Bryndza said. “And we also worship growth.”

As a single mother of 13-year-old twins and the daughter of a single mother, she brings a perspective on work-life balance that Uber previously lacked. While working under the guidance of Uber’s SVP and chief human resources officer Liane Hornsey, Bryndza’s team has made some changes.

Their first priority was to change the performance review system, which gave the very top performers bonuses worth eight times what other employees got, because Bryndza said it set unreasonable expectations for employees.

Telling people they have to work 70 hours to earn a top performance bonus is tantamount to telling a large swath of people, those who dedicate that many hours to work, that they are ineligible from the start, didn’t sit well with her. “It’s inequitable at its core,” she said.

Bryndza said her first days were filled with listening sessions. Now, when making decisions, she said the leadership focuses on transparency, fairness, and involvement by all.

Hornsey encouraged employees to email her with questions or concerns following the sexism scandal and promised to reply within 48 hours, she told Fortune at the Most Powerful Women summit last week.

And Bryndza said it’s Hornsey’s emphasis on repetition and delivering results that will make the changes stick at Uber.

If you value growth over people, “you will never have a stable business,” she said. “You will definitely fail.”

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