A couple of weeks ago, former Uber engineer, Susan Fowler came forward about her experience with sexual harassment at the company.
Fowler discussed the incident in depth on her personal blog, where she talked about being sexually harassed by her manager. Fowler stated that when she approached Human Resources for help, she was ignored repeatedly. Fowler was later informed by another manager that she could potentially be fired for reporting the incident.
“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,” Fowler wrote.
Fowler also states that she was given two options; either go and find another team and never speak to her alleged assailant again, or stay on the team and expect a poor performance review from him.
Fowler’s claims caused Uber to launch a full internal investigation that was lead by former US Attorney General Eric Holder. However, many were not pleased with the company’s decision to hire two lawyers who happened to be a current Uber employee and an Uber board member for the investigation. Early Uber investors expressed their concern to the investigators by stating that there are many conflicts of interests within the investigation. A couple hours after Susan Fowler’s blog post, Uber’s chief executive, Travis Kalanick came forward with a statement.
“What she describes is abhorrent and against everything Uber stands for and believes in,” stated Kalanick. “We seek to make Uber a just workplace for everyone, and there can be absolutely no place for this kind of behavior – and anyone who behaves this way or thinks this is okay will be fired.”
The company has received backlash from many Uber app users through social media. “#DeleteUber,” was trending on Twitter following the sexual harassment allegations at the company. These events have caused many previous Uber customers to delete the app.
Susan Fowler is far from the first female engineer to have experienced sexual harassment on some kind of level in Silicon Valley. However, the emergence of her case has managed to ruffle a few feathers within the tech industry, as well as with customers. Susan Fowler’s unfortunate experience with sexual harassment from her managers has opened a discussion on the uncomfortable topic of the systematic problem with sexism in the tech industry.