Uber steps on the gas in effort to promote culture, gender diversity

NARAYANAN V Chennai | Updated on July 22, 2019 Published on July 22, 2019

From crowdsourcing its ‘culture norms’ to on-boarding more women and roping in gender-neutral driver-partners, Uber is pulling out all the stops to become more inclusive and diverse, besides making its rides safer.

“Globally, our gender representation has moved to 42.3 per cent and women representation at the senior level has gone up by 7 per cent,” Vishpala Reddy, Regional HR Director, APAC, Uber, told BusinessLine on the sidelines of the Nasscom HR Summit held here last week.

Quoting Uber’s global diversity report, Reddy said that women representation in the Asia-Pacific region and India closely mirrors the global trend.

Over the last two years, Uber has been at the receiving end following a series of sexual harassment complaints. An internal investigation carried out after one such complaint culminated in the ousting of its co-founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick in June 2017.

“I think it happened at a certain point of time. And also, one cannot presume that what happened in a particular geography will repeat itself in every office in every country,” Reddy said. She added that the company’s culture has evolved since then.

Listing out Uber’s efforts to address workplace issues, Reddy said that the company has rolled out an ‘Integrity helpline’ to address workplace issues, doubled investments on the HR function and has been offering ‘forward-looking’ training for employees in the areas of culture and gender diversity.

In her presentation at the Summit titled ‘The Culture Context’, Reddy said that culture change in any organisation is not possible without the support and motivation of the business leaders.

Citing examples of crowd-sourced ‘culture norms’, Reddy said norms like ‘Big Bold Bet’ have helped employees bet on futuristic projects.

“Uber’s futuristic air transport project ‘Uber Air’ and ‘scUber’ — the World’s first ride-sharing submarine unveiled in Australia — are examples of the Big Bold Bet initiative,” Reddy added.

In India, Uber is in the process of launching programmes like the one to welcome returning mothers, and ‘She++’, which aims to hire more women engineers.

Uber India also drew flak from the government earlier this month after a disability rights activist alleged harassment and manhandling by two Uber drivers in Chennai. Pointing out that drivers and delivery partners are not employees of Uber but sign up as ‘independent entrepreneurs’, Reddy, however, added that ‘rider safety’ is one of the top priorities of Uber and the company is imparting ‘gender sensitivity’ training to its driver-partners.

Published on July 22, 2019

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