Uber Technologies’ human resources chief has reportedly stepped down amid allegations of racial discrimination in her work, which sought to revamp the troubled company following previous blowouts.
Uber’s head of HR Liane Hornsey has resigned from the company in the wake of a Tuesday report from Reuters that Uber had conducted a previously unreported investigation into accusations from anonymous whistle-blowers that Hornsey “had used discriminatory language and made derogatory comments about Uber Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion Bernard Coleman, and had denigrated and threatened former Uber executive Bozoma Saint John, who left the company in June.”
Within hours of Reuters’ report, both Hornsey and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi acknowledged her departure in emails to employees that have since been obtained by Forbes, and offer little detail or context.
Hornsey joined the company shortly before former Uber engineer Susan J. Fowler published an explosive blog post early last year about sexual harassment and sour corporate culture at the company, catalyzing a wave of criticism toward some aspects of how Uber and other tech giants do business. Since then, Hornsey led internal learning and reform efforts at the firm, and sought to enact significant changes to Uber’s internal reporting process, among other things.
Khosrowshahi wrote in his email to employees, “In her time at Uber, she’s accomplished a lot … She’s been a valuable member of my leadership team and I wish her nothing but the best.”
As Fortune reported, this latest uproar for the ride-hail giant began when an anonymous employee contacted Uber’s whistle-blower email account and Chief Legal Officer Tony West, saying Hornsey had systematically dismissed employee complaints about race-based discrimination, and that they’d go public about the investigation unless action was taken.
By email, a spokesperson for Uber commented, “We are confident that the investigation was conducted in an unbiased, thorough and credible manner, and that the conclusions of the investigation were addressed appropriately.”
The resignation also follows a series of significant ups and downs for the company this year, despite its earlier 180 Days of Change campaign and consistently warm words on the tech and political talk circuits from Khosrowshahi. While Uber recently won yet another chance to get its service up to code in London, for example, the company has gotten increasing attention from critics around its aggressive lobbying, frequently low payouts, and a recent rash of professional drivers’ suicides.
As WIRED’s Jessi Hempel reflected, “Hornsey’s resignation is also a sign of what hasn’t yet been achieved [inside the company]. Disgruntled employees still don’t trust Uber’s systems, and they are turning to the media to air their grievances.”
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