Uber CPO Liane Hornsey Retires Amid Reports of Racial Discrimination

The Chief People Officer of Uber, Liane Hornsey, has reportedly retired from the company. (Image:  hipstaspace via  flickr  CC BY-SA 4.0)
The Chief People Officer of Uber, Liane Hornsey, has reportedly retired from the company. (Image: hipstaspace via flickr CC BY-SA 4.0)

The Chief People Officer (CPO) of Uber, Liane Hornsey, has reportedly retired from the company. And even though Uber did not give any specific reasons why she left, reports suggest that she was accused of racial discrimination. Horney had joined the organization in January 2017.

Racism in the organization

A few employees of color at the firm had alleged that Hornsey acted in a discriminatory manner against the company’s global head of diversity, Bernard Coleman. She is also said to have threatened another minority worker, Bozoma Saint John, who opted to leave the company back in June.  Even internal complaints regarding racial discrimination were reportedly dismissed by her without a second thought. This led to an internal investigation by the company.

“We are confident that the investigation was conducted in an unbiased, thorough, and credible manner, and that the conclusions of the investigation were addressed appropriately,” according to an Uber spokesperson’s statement quoted by Tech Crunch.

In an email to the staff members, Hornsey mentioned that she had been thinking about the departure for a while and that the company would definitely be in good hands once she left. The company’s Vice President of HR, Pranesh Anthapur, has been appointed as an interim CPO.

A few employees of color at the firm had alleged that Hornsey acted in a discriminatory manner against the company’s global head of diversity, Bernard Coleman. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

A few employees of color at the firm had alleged that Hornsey acted in a discriminatory manner against the company’s global head of diversity, Bernard Coleman. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

Meanwhile, the current Chief Operating Officer, Barney Harford, has also been accused of passing racist comments by a few employees, However, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi seemed to have intervened and resolved the issue from blowing up.

“I am humbled and grateful for the feedback I received, which has been eye-opening… Honest feedback given in good faith is something we need more of, and I’m totally committed to acting on it and improving,” The New York Times quotes a statement released by Harford.

Gender discrimination

While the charges of racial discrimination are bad enough for the company, Uber is still reeling from accusations of gender discrimination and sexual harassment leveled against them by a female engineer. The woman in question, Susan Fowler, had expressed her disappointment at the firm’s culture and attitude through her Medium blog last year.

“When I joined Uber, the organization I was part of was over 25 percent women. By the time I was trying to transfer to another eng organization, this number had dropped down to less than 6 percent. Women were transferring out of the organization, and those who couldn’t transfer were quitting or preparing to quit. There were two major reasons for this: there was the organizational chaos, and there was also the sexism within the organization”, she writes in the article.

The blog post had resulted in serious ramifications for Uber, with the then-CEO Travis Kalanick being forced out of the company for being responsible for the culture of sexism that had developed in the workplace. As a consequence, current CEO Dara Khosrowshahi was appointed.

Dara Khosrowshahi is an Iranian-American businessman and the current chief executive officer (CEO) of Uber. (Image: Ecole polytechnique via flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)

Dara was very proactive from the beginning. And this is evident by the company’s annual diversity report launched in April this year. The representation of the Latinx community has increased slightly from 5.6 percent to 6.1 percent. When it came to female representation, the company has improved it from 36.1 percent to 38 percent. Unfortunately, the report highlighted the reduced representation of black employees.

While the report might overall look positive for the company, Uber still has a long way to go before truly becoming a diverse workforce. After all, diversity not only means hiring people of various races, genders, religions, etc., but it also means making them comfortable in their working environment. 

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