in Fails

“High Performance” versus Listening to Employees

Like you needed another reason to think Uber was a hot mess you should avoid at all costs, but for other reasons, you should read this account from Susan Fowler regarding her year working at Uber and the rather horrible treatment she received at the hands of HR and some of her colleagues there:

When I joined Uber, the organization I was part of was over 25% women. By the time I was trying to transfer to another eng organization, this number had dropped down to less than 6%. 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. When I asked our director at an org all-hands about what was being done about the dwindling numbers of women in the org compared to the rest of the company, his reply was, in a nutshell, that the women of Uber just needed to step up and be better engineers.

It includes a story regarding a case of sexual harassment that happened almost immediately after she was hired:

When I reported the situation, I was told by both HR and upper management that even though this was clearly sexual harassment and he was propositioning me, it was this man’s first offense, and that they wouldn’t feel comfortable giving him anything other than a warning and a stern talking-to. Upper management told me that he “was a high performer” (i.e. had stellar performance reviews from his superiors) and they wouldn’t feel comfortable punishing him for what was probably just an innocent mistake on his part.

I hear from people from time to time that HR departments in general are not hired to do what is best for employees, but what is best for the company.

Don’t let your company decide that “high performance” is more valuable to you than a safe and inclusive place to work that treats other people with respect. A workplace that respects everyone who works there will generate a better company long-term.

(By the way, this also has some parallels to similar things that have happened within the fighting game community. Just because people are top players or have only committed their “first offense” does not mean we should go easy on them for violating decency and harassing others.)

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