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Uber trails Silicon Valley peers on gender equality

Uber has a smaller proportion of women in leadership and technical roles than many of its Silicon Valley peers, according to a diversity review conducted by the company.

The report, the latest in a series of steps Uber is taking to try to change its corporate culture, shows that women hold 22 per cent of management positions and 15 per cent of technical roles. That is lower than peers such as Airbnb, Apple, Google and Facebook, but on par with Cisco and Microsoft, which have historically been more male-dominated companies.

Most large US technology groups started publicly reporting diversity information several years ago but Uber resisted disclosing such data for its 12,000 global employees, of whom just under half are based in the US.

However, it changed its stance after a series of recent events, including allegations of sexual harassment by Susan Fowler, a former Uber engineer, called into question the company’s hard-driving alpha-male culture.

Travis Kalanick, the car-hailing app’s chief executive, said on Tuesday that the report was a “first step in showing that diversity and inclusion is a priority at Uber”. Mr Kalanick is hiring a chief operating officer intended to be a “partner” to him as the company seeks to recover from its recent crises.

“I know that we have been too slow in publishing our numbers — and that the best way to demonstrate our commitment to change is through transparency,” Mr Kalanick said.

The company has commissioned an investigation into the sexual harassment allegations with its findings due to be published next month.

Uber stopped short of setting diversity targets but the company committed to spend $3m in the next three years to support non-profit organisations focused on recruiting under-represented groups into tech jobs.

The newly disclosed data show that Uber has become more diverse recently — women and minorities made up a greater percentage of those hired in the past 12 months than the general Uber workforce.

The report also revealed that white employees make up less than half of Uber’s US workers, due to a high percentage of Asians working in tech and a relatively high percentage of black and Hispanic workers in customer support roles.

However, Uber’s management is predominantly white and male: its leadership is 78 per cent male and 77 per cent white.

At a time when tech companies have been increasingly concerned that the US government will make it harder to bring skilled workers into the country on H1B visas, Uber disclosed that 15 per cent of its US staff, or 880 people, are expats on work visas.

Uber was one of the first companies to speak out against President Donald Trump’s first attempt at an immigration ban in January.

Liane Hornsey, Uber’s head of human resources, who has been spearheading efforts to change the culture, has criticised the “cult of the individual” at the company. “While there are many things we need to change about our culture, I believe that making Uber a more diverse and inclusive workplace is key,” she said.

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