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You are here: Home / Automotive Tech / Uber Whistleblower, HR Chief Clash
Uber Whistleblower and Company HR Chief Clash Online
Uber Whistleblower and Company HR Chief Clash Online
By Marisa Kendall Like this on Facebook Tweet this Link thison Linkedin Link this on Google Plus
It's been eight months since former Uber engineer Susan Fowler upended the ride-hailing company with her explosive blog post accusing company managers of sexual harassment and sexism. But Uber's new human resources chief, who is largely in charge of fixing the cultural issues Fowler highlighted, reportedly hasn't met with Fowler -- and doesn't plan to.

That's according to a Q&A The Wall Street Journal published with HR head, Liane Hornsey, on Monday.

Hornsey joined Uber in December, a month after Fowler left, and a month before Fowler published the blog post. When asked if she'd reached out to Fowler, Hornsey said no.

"I have said, very publicly, 'Thank you' to her because she raised some stuff that did lead to change," Hornsey told the publication. "I don't know whether there would be any benefit in meeting her. I'm seriously working for my employees today; she's an ex-employee."

Fowler took the comment as an affront, tweeting "oooh burn" and "She really, really doesn't like me."

Hornsey's comment also didn't sit well with another female software engineer -- Tracy Chou, who is an outspoken diversity advocate and works with Ellen Pao on Project Include.

"wait what. for real, lady?" Chou tweeted in apparent disbelief at Hornsey's response.

Fowler's original post kicked off a firestorm that engulfed the $70 billion company and ultimately led to the resignation of its CEO Travis Kalanick.

"The Susan Fowler blog was very difficult for this company," she told The Wall Street Journal. "We did 200 listening sessions. I made it very clear that every single email from every single employee would be answered by me in 48 hours. Believe you me, I sat up until 4 a.m. every bloody morning answering thousands of bloody emails."

Hornsey also used the interview to detail steps Uber is taking to promote diversity and inclusion, some of which are part of the 47 recommendations former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's team released after an investigation into the company's culture. Uber moved its free employee dinner from 8:15 p.m. to 7 p.m., as a way to signal that the work day is ending, and people can go home. The company increased part-time work and solidified an alcohol policy to govern drinking at company events. But Hornsey told The Journal that Uber has yet to hire a chief diversity officer or finalize its revised company values, because it's waiting for input from new CEO Dara Khosroshahi.

The Holder report also recommended reviewing resumes blind, so managers can't tell an applicant's race or gender. But Hornsey said in a world of LinkedIn and Google, that's not particularly practical. Instead, she said the company requires all engineering interviews have a woman on the panel, so female applicants will never have to interview in a room full of men. She also said it will be difficult to implement the "Rooney Rule" -- requiring the company to interview at least one woman or minority candidate for certain jobs -- with engineering roles. So to start, Uber has identified about 1,800 women in engineering (both professionals and students) and is trying to build relationship with them, in order to create a pipeline.

Well-intentioned or not, that move also didn't sit well with Fowler, who mocked it on Twitter. "Also, did ya'll know that there are only 1800 women engineers?" she wrote. "Uber has identified them all."

© 2017 San Jose Mercury News under contract with NewsEdge/Acquire Media. All rights reserved.

Image credit: Uber.

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