The CEO’s Uber Diversity Dilemma
Uber executive, Emil Michael suggested at a dinner party attended by people like Arianna Huffington and Kara Swisher that Uber would pay a million dollars to hire researchers to dig up dirt on journalists who wrote negative stories about Uber.
“They’d look into your personal lives, your families,’ and give the media a taste of its own medicine,” he said.
He was targeting Sarah Lacey; journalist from Pando Daily who wrote that she deleted the Uber app because of their sexist comments and advertising that she felt was detrimental to women drivers and passengers.
In response to the public outrage about Michaels’ comments CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanick in a series of Tweets wrote “His remarks showed a lack of leadership, a lack of humanity, and a departure from our values and ideals.”
Really? Then why is he representing your organization? Did you not know until that moment what he thought? Or did you know, agree and assume that everyone else agreed? Or maybe, you didn’t think he’d say it in public?
Message to the myriad of CEO’s politicians, et al who have had to apologize and explain away the sexism, racism and homophobia of an employee or representative.
1- You’re responsible for anyone who represents you.
2- It doesn’t matter whether they’re at work, or at a party. How do you want to be seen in the world?
3- Let every single employee know that and hold them accountable.
4- If you say that you and your organization value respect, inclusion, diversity and talent, then you better mean it in words and deeds. If not, eventually, you’re going to be embarrassed, lose customers, or be the defendants in a big lawsuit.
5- If you really believe the values in your mission, your website or your marketing material, then you’ll hire people who believe and live those values at work and everywhere else.
6- You create the cultural blueprint for your organization and when you have people in senior leadership who are offensive, and, disrespectful, they are reflections of the culture you’ve created.
These scandals are like the parent who apologizes for their kids bullying, when their kids learned that behavior from them.
I love technology and disruptive innovation. I want to see everyone benefit and be welcome to the new age (like the Imagine Dragon song.) For that to happen we need more diversity of every kind represented in these organizations. Right now it’s lacking. The people who lead and found these organizations are showing us possibilities and opening up new worlds at immeasurable speeds. They are creative, brilliant and “think out of the box.” However, If they want to move us faster, and extend their reach and influence even more, they need to live, hire, and discover the genius in people “who are out of the box.”
Those who use their positions, organizations or political power to demean people who are different than them, and threaten the families and livelihood of people who criticize them should not continue to be rewarded, nor be excused.