Cultural pollution flows from the top down
With #deleteuber trending, Travis’ enforced resignation & the firing of over 20 employees in the last month alone, it’s clear that the supposed foundations of the business are well & truly splintered. Uber’s site states “don’t just find your place, create it” but how are employees meant to create their place in an environment stifled with the smog of a corrupt & exploitative leader. Will the business’ lack of loyalty to its “partner-drivers” come back to bite when the drivers’ resultant lack of commitment pushes them towards Lyft’s more empathetic, human employment approach? And how about when passengers’ ambivalence turns into rejection of a company whose very name is a pollutant?
A slow silent & deadly P&L crash
Fuelled with $8.81bn, having lost $2.8 billion in 2016 & with a valuation of $70bn, there appear to be rather a few blind spots occurring in Uber’s investment landscape. Driverless cars have been hailed as the future for Uber but they appear, as of yet, a small dot in the landscape. Autonomous vehicles may sound like they will cut costs but, once again, Travis’ focus has been devoid of empathy. Even when the tech is ready, laws are abided by & insurance policies placated, what about the psychological aspect? How willing are we to let the robot insert itself further inextricably into our lives already dominated by technological disintermediation? Culture – the emotional DNA of a business – is already threatening to destroy Uber. The introduction of autonomous vehicles, so devoid of emotional & cultural ties, has to be considered a lot more carefully for the investors quaking nerves to be quelled.
Power lies in diversity
Exposed as wary of revealing diversity figures, Uber has become notorious for its treatment of women, notably Susan Fowler. Indeed, the resignation of Travis Kalanick may hint at a turning point, but it is merely cutting the head of a hydra – two more will rise up in its place. The culture has become infamous & although working within Silicon Valley is considered the height of cool for techies, those wary of becoming victims of & being associated with sexism (& worse) will avoid the company at all costs. Change will take more than just poaching Bozoma Saint John from Apple as Head of Branding. It will take more than setting up a diversity page with photographic representations of all ethnic backgrounds. It will take a serious overhaul of mindset & this must run through everything that can’t been seen: how decisions are reached, how individuals are valued, how customer complaints are dealt with, supplier relations etc. Diversity is much more than having equal number of men and women. It requires a a balance of differing & challenging opinions – this it what it will take to thrive &, unfortunately for Uber, the road trip has only just begun.
Watch the interview on BBC iPlayer: