New York: Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has said he was taking a leave of absence for personal reasons, an announcement that comes at a time when the company is dealing with a series of workplace scandals. As part of a note announcing policies to improve its corporate culture, Kalanick said on Tuesday he would step aside for an unspecified period of time to focus on personal matters and reflect on how to build a world-class leadership team, Efe news reported.
“The ultimate responsibility for where we’ve gotten and how we’ve gotten here rests on my shoulders,” Kalanick said. “There is of course much to be proud of but there is much to improve.” Kalanick’s decision to step aside comes after an internal investigation conducted by a former US Attorney General, Eric Holder, a probe the company launched due to allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination.
On Tuesday, a report by Holder containing recommendations for improving the company were made public. Uber’s board unanimously accepted those suggestions. Among them, Holder said that Uber should “review and reallocate the responsibilities of Travis Kalanick” and search for a chief operating officer who would work closely with the new CEO to improve Uber’s corporate culture.
Holder also recommended that COO candidates have backgrounds in diversity and inclusion, saying that would reinforce “actions resulting from recommendations … relating to tone at the top and the need to focus on diversity and inclusion at Uber.” San Francisco-based Uber, the world’s largest ride-hailing app, last week fired 20 employees – including some in senior positions – after evaluating more than 200 claims of sexual harassment, discrimination, bullying and unprofessional conduct.
On Monday, a senior vice president at Uber, Emil Michael, stepped down ahead of Holder’s recommendations. The company has been under fire since February, when a former site reliability engineer, Susan Fowler, levelled numerous allegations of sexism against her former superiors in a lengthy blog post.
Her blog was widely shared online and prompted the company to launch an internal investigation. The ride-hailing app, which has roughly 12,000 employees, hired the services of Holder to look into the company’s work culture and contracted law firm Perkins Coie to review the specific harassment allegations.