It’s Up to White Men to Improve Tech’s Diversity, Says Uber Exec Bozoma Saint John

March 12, 2018, 9:44 AM UTC

Uber’s chief brand officer, Bozoma Saint John, has challenged white, male executives to improve diversity in their workplaces if they see it lacking.

Uber hired Saint John, an African-American woman, last year amid a state of turmoil triggered by Susan Fowler’s blog post alleging workplace sexual harassment and former CEO Travis Kalanick’s caught-on-camera berating of an Uber driver. At the SXSW festival on Sunday, Saint John said it was up to “white men to look around in their office and say, ‘Oh look, there’s a lot of white men here. Let’s change this.'”

“Why do I, as the black woman, have to fix that?” Saint John asked, according to CNN. “There’s 50 of you, there’s one of me…I want white men to make the noise.”

Uber's Bozoma Sait John speaks onstage
Saint John, chief brand officer of Uber, joined the company last year.Bloomberg Bloomberg via Getty Images
Patrick T. Fallon—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Saint John, a former Apple marketing exec, said it was “up to the entire [tech] industry to make sure that we are moving the conversation forward.”

She also characterized the notion that a lack of diversity stems from a lack of suitable female and minority job candidates as “bullshit.” Instead, she said, the problem was down to people on the hiring side sticking with what was familiar to them.

Uber released a diversity report less than a year ago that showed it had no black or Hispanic people in technical leadership positions. There’s been a lot of upheaval at the top of the company since then, and in January this year new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi hired Uber’s first chief diversity officer, Bo Young Lee.

The creation of that role was one of the recommendations of a report into Uber’s corporate culture by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Holder’s full report was never made public, but Saint John told CNN that she had seen parts of it. She described what she saw as “sweeping” and “very in-depth.”

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