Uber co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick has taken a sabbatical from running the taxi hailing giant to mourn his mum and also take some time away from work after more than eight years at the helm.
In a letter to the Uber team, now leaderless after the exit of its CTO,COO and CFO Kalanick said, “For the last eight years my life has always been about Uber. Recent events have brought home for me that people are more important than work, and that I need to take some time off of the day-to-day to grieve my mother, whom I buried on Friday, to reflect, to work on myself, and to focus on building out a world-class leadership team.”
In the letter, Kalanick agreed that most of Uber’s controversies and achievements were his ultimate responsibility and the next focus would be on building out the leadership team including himself. Though going away, Travis would be available as needed for the most strategic decisions.
“It’s hard to put a timeline on this – it may be shorter or longer than we might expect,” Travis wrote. “Tragically losing a loved one has been difficult for me and I need to properly say my goodbyes.”
Uber has had a bad time for quiet a while. On February 19, 2017, Susan Fowler, a former Uber engineer published a blog post detailing allegations of harassment during her employment at the firm. Uber then hired Eric Holder and Tammy Albarrán, partners at the law firm Covington & Burling LLP to evaluate Uber’s workplace environment, whether its policies and practices were sufficient to prevent and properly address discrimination and what steps the firm could take to solve them.
After over 200 interviews with current and former employees and a review databases containing over 3 million documents, the firm recommended that Uber changes its senior leadership by reviewing and reallocating Kalanick’s responsibilities by either sharing them or giving them out to other members of senior management.
The team also recommended that Uber should institute and enforce clear guidelines on alcohol consumption and the use of controlled substances.
“Uber should take steps to provide clear guidelines about acceptable and unacceptable uses of alcohol and strictly prohibit the use of controlled substances, including prohibiting consumption of alcohol during core work hours and prohibiting consumption of non-prescription controlled substances during core work hours, at work events, or at other work-sponsored events,” the report said.
The report urged that with respect to alcohol consumption at after-hours work events and at other work-sponsored events, Uber should consider limiting the budget available to managers for alcohol purchases, restrict reimbursement for alcohol-related events, and include training for managers on appropriate events for retreats and out-of-work events.
Uber should also encourage responsible drinking, said the report and limit the amount of alcohol that is available in the office, de-emphasizing alcohol as a component of work events, and otherwise taking appropriate action to discipline and address inappropriate employee conduct fueled by alcohol consumption. Uber should support work events in which alcohol is not a strong component to ensure that employees who do not partake in consumption of alcohol still have opportunities to engage in networking and team building activities.
Other things the board ought to do is provide clear lines of demarcation between the role that the Chief Operating Officer and the CEO. The firm should also establish key metrics to which its leaders will be held accountable in the performance review process.
The firm should also increase the Profile of Uber’s Head of Diversity and the Efforts of His Organization. Install an Independent Chairperson of the Board. Create an Oversight Committee. Use Compensation to Hold Senior Leaders Accountable. Nominate a Senior Executive Team Member to Oversee Implementation of any Recommendations.
Uber should also reformulate its written cultural values with significant input from employees and train its Human Resources personnel on the effective handling of complaints, including the proper and thorough investigation of complaints of harassment, discrimination, or retaliation, as well as the appropriate documentation of investigations and record-keeping, and develop policies and processes relating to record-keeping.
The report also required Uber to prohibit workplace intimate relationships especially between individuals in a reporting relationship (either direct or indirect). The urges that if employees in a reporting relationship find themselves in a romantic or intimate relationship, they must be required to immediately report it so that appropriate action can be taken.