Dis­turb­ing al­le­ga­tions of SEX­UAL HARRASSMENT and com­plic­ity

New Straits Times - - Klassifieds -

By Rowena Mo­rais

SU­SAN Fowler Rigetti, left Uber in De­cem­ber 2016, about a year af­ter she had joined as a site re­li­a­bil­ity en­gi­neer. Rigetti’s Fe­bru­ary 2017 blog post, Re­flect­ing on one very, very strange year at Uber, was her at­tempt to an­swer the many ques­tions she started to re­ceive about why she left. As she put it, “it’s a strange, fas­ci­nat­ing and slightly hor­ri­fy­ing story that de­serves to be told while it is still fresh in mind …”

So what hap­pens when these al­le­ga­tions are brought to light? It seems rea­son­able to ex­pect an in­ves­ti­ga­tion. This hap­pened ex­cept as “dis­ap­pointed and frus­trated” early in­vestors, Mitch and Freada Ka­por of Ka­por Cap­i­tal Part­ners ex­pressed, the in­ves­ti­ga­tion could have been han­dled bet­ter.

In the re­cent For­tune.com ar­ti­cle,

Tech Lead­ers Speak Out Against

Uber Fol­low­ing Sex­ual Harrassment Al­le­ga­tions, Polina Mari­nova ex­plained that these early in­vestors were up­set about Uber’s choice of the team to con­duct the in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the abuse and dis­crim­i­na­tion.

The team in­cludes for­mer US

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Eric Holder,

Ari­anna Huff­in­g­ton and Uber’s newly hired CHRO, Liane Horsey.

Holder had been work­ing on be­half of Uber re­cently, Huff­in­g­ton is a

Uber board mem­ber and Hornsey re­ports to the ex­ec­u­tive team.

How well will they be able to gen­er­ate an ac­cu­rate and in­de­pen­dent anal­y­sis of what hap­pened as well as sug­gest rec­om­men­da­tions for last­ing change? In­tegrity, ob­jec­tiv­ity and pro­fes­sion­al­ism will not only need to be present but be seen to be present through­out such in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

I only de­scribed a few points Rigetti raised but this story brings many more is­sues to the fore­front pre­sent­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions, of all sizes, a chance to make this a learn­ing op­por­tu­nity for all within as well as re­in­force their own stand on these is­sues with their peo­ple.

“I was lucky enough dur­ing all of this to work with some of the most amaz­ing engi­neers in the Bay Area. We kept our heads down and did good (some­times great) work de­spite the chaos. We loved our work, we loved the en­gi­neer­ing chal­lenges, we loved mak­ing this crazy Uber ma­chine work, and to­gether we found ways to make it through the re-orgs and the chang­ing OKRs and the aban­doned projects and the im­pos­si­ble dead­lines. We kept each other sane, kept the gi­gan­tic Uber ecosys­tem run­ning, and told our­selves that it would even­tu­ally get bet­ter.”

As we have seen time and again, peo­ple don’t of­ten leave or­gan­i­sa­tions, they leave their man­agers. They leave the lead­ers they be­lieved in and looked up to. In this case, Rigetti and many oth­ers like her, stood it out. They made it work de­spite what hap­pened. In many or­gan­i­sa­tions, peo­ple do the same.

But this doesn’t last. Even­tu­ally, they re­alise that if the right peo­ple don’t show in­ter­est and ac­tion, don’t make the tough de­ci­sions, things will not get bet­ter. And they leave. It hap­pened to Uber and it hap­pens around the world.

As HR pro­fes­sion­als, if we want things to change, does it not be­gin with what we do? Where do you see your­self do­ing things dif­fer­ently? How would you nav­i­gate this land­scape? I would love to hear from you. You can read Rigetti’s blog post at su­san­j­fowler.com.

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