Is This Anonymous App Helping Fuel An Insurrection At Uber?
More and more Uber employees are reportedly using a workplace app that allows them to communicate anonymously, following several scathing accusations of rampant sexism, such as a manager’s lewd behavior.
Alex Shin, the founder of the mobile app called “Blind,” says that roughly 2,200 Uber coworkers are actively engaged on the platform, according to TechCrunch.
Shin says the number of users doubled after Susan J. Fowler, a former engineer at Uber, publicized her negative experiences at the company, sparking a debate. She wrote of specific alleged incidences of sexual harassment, and subsequent unfair treatment after complaining about the alleged misconduct to superiors and colleagues.
“It was clear that he was trying to get me to have sex with him, and it was so clearly out of line that I immediately took screenshots of these chat messages and reported him to HR,” Fowler wrote, adding that higher-ups stalled or ignored her objections.
Over a hundred female employees reportedly met with Uber CEO Travis Kalanick last week to tell him sexism at the company was “systemic” and not unique to Fowler.
Unsurprisingly, Shin says that the majority of the discussions on the Blind app are focused on sexism in the workplace, as well as company leadership’s handling of such complaints. (Shin says that Blind users don’t read what people particularly say, but do have keyword searches to see what topics are trending on the platform). (RELATED: Uber Senior Exec Calls Trump ‘Deplorable’)
Soon after Fowler’s accusatory account of her time at Uber, more than 30 current and former employees took their testimonies, some apparently including surreptitiously recorded management meetings, to the New York Times.
One of the primary criticisms is a work culture where getting ahead requires employees to stage a coup against a direct supervisor, according to the NYT report. The tech conglomerate also reportedly has been involved in a number of salacious and dangerous escapades since its start, including booze-filled ragers, bosom-grabbing, consumption of illicit drugs, and hijacking a shuttle bus.
Prior to Fowler making her accusations public, Uber blocked access to the Blind app on the company’s WiFi, according to TechCrunch. Shin says that it’s the only company to restrict the platform for its employees and it is not exactly known why Uber decided to do so.
After the initial allegations, the morale within the ride-sharing company became so bad that Kalanick felt compelled to hold an “emotional” 90 minute, all-hands meeting to address the issues and hear directly from staffers.
Kalanick said such accusations were the first he ever heard leveled against his company. He vowed to get to the bottom of the situation, along with promises to make hiring more diverse. (RELATED: There’s A Quantifiable Reason Why Uber’s CEO Quit Trump’s Econ Team)
Specifically, the tech bigwig announced in a letter sent to employees that he was hiring former Attorney General Eric Holder, Arianna Huffington, co-founder of the eponymous media outlet Huffington Post, as well as two other in-house employees to review the incident and help come up with potential solutions if needed.
Two of Uber’s earliest investors were extremely upset with the decision because Huffington is on the board of directors. Holder worked for Uber last year in a different respect, and two other workers could have an inherent (albeit subconscious) bias, rendering the investigation not “independent.” (RELATED: Google’s Self-Driving Car Company Is Suing Uber For Allegedly Stealing Laser Sensor Tech)
The app Uber employees are apparently using also has a feature called the “Tech Lounge,” in which workers from different companies can communicate with each other, according to Tech Crunch.
Legitimate news or rumors (including any inklings) of internal unrest, can now be shared across the industry without surveillance from superiors or increased fear of punishment.
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