Diversity is imperative for any firm and its its increasingly on top of the CEO's agenda in large enterprises. Uber, a revered global cab service provider and the largest privately owned firm, has of late been in the news, for all the wrong reasons. Criticized for breeding a distorted workplace and referred by its own investors for having a "Toxic culture".

This subsequently came as a fallout from a former female engineer who alleged Sexual harassment leading to a widespread backlash. Uber subsequently hired former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to conduct an investigation on the claims. The episode reveals a much deeper underlying issue with Uber's workplace and perhaps a wake up call for many other companies as well.

Two investors and diversity advocates: Mitch Kapor and Freada Kapor Klein raised objections to Uber's "Destructive" workplace. "To us, this decision is yet another example of Uber’s continued unwillingness to be open, transparent, and direct". Uber opened an investigation on accusations of sexual harassment within the company. These allegations of sexual harassment also include Uber's SVP of engineering, Amit Singhal; who had previously left Google due to a sexual harassment allegation, something he did not reveal to Uber's management. Their investigation is aimed to be "Thorough, Impartial and Objective" however, most of the members of the investigation team are employees working directly (including CHRO Liane) with the CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanick; smelling of partiality.

It's not just Uber that has an imbalanced workforce. Only 15.1% of Uber’s workforce are women, a small size even by the industry’s standards and many claim the workplace to be "hostile". The gender pay gap exists on every level of STEM jobs, with women being encouraged to leave as their pay is not being increased.

In Silicon Valley, the hub for start-ups, gender pay gap levels remain the same year after year. A college male graduate will get a significantly higher salary than his equally educated female counterpart. HR departments are failing to do what their job profiles require. Even after bringing to light various problems that employees face at these firms, many times the HR department will not act upon it; feeding on to the negative environment of the company.  The company culture is ultimately dependent on the CEO, such as Travis Kalanick; who many are saying should be fired. Ultimately, it boils down to whether he is capable of change upon the recent findings. It’s common for founder CEOs to be fired once their company is making great success or has been around for a while.
Racial disparity is rampant as well. Americans, Europeans and Canadians, the majority of ‘White’ people get much higher salaries than their Asian, African-American or Latin counterparts. This highlights how much of inequality there is between genders and between races as well. Young women in STEM earn up to one third less than their male counterparts, showcasing just how dominant this trend is; across all industries.  Trust and transparency is paramount to all firms, or it should be. When there is little transparency, it can make for a hostile or even aggressive workplace.
75% of people who experience sexual harassment at work, don't Report it

It has been a reality check for many at Silicon Valley, faced with what has been an unsettling reality for many years now. Companies should be more committed than ever to build an inclusive culture that is dedicated to help and motivate their employees, and take some value from what has happened to Uber.  All the commotion over the past few years about how the industries, especially those present in Silicon Valley have become more ‘diversified’ and ‘inclusive’ is baseless as Silicon Valley still remains very much ‘a man’s world’. Women outnumber men in higher educational institutes and in the workforce; but they still receive lower pay than males in various fields. Being held back by stereotypes and biases; it has only made the women not want to work in these environments.
60% of women Tech workers in Silicon Valley have experienced sexual harassment
What is happening at Uber is, unfortunately, widespread in the industry.  Tesla has been known to have among the lowest paying and most stressful tech jobs. In the infamous Vandermeyden case, she alleged of being paid much lesser than her male colleagues, often sexually harassed and skipped during promotions.


INDIA isn't far behind

In India, 444 per Lakh (100,000) women report Sexual harrasment. The Service sector (which primarily includes the Finance, banking and information technology sectors) account for more than half the number of sexual harassment complaints filed in the years 2015, '14, & '13.
Information Technology sector in India accounts for more > 40% of Sexual harassment cases (2012-13 & 2014-15)


Yet, for every woman that complains, there are far more who suffer in silence. Even though the Indian Labour Act has introduced several laws that prohibit harassment of any kind on any discriminatory basis; occurrences of harassment do occur. While diversity still remains an important objective for many Indian firms, the lack of effort when it comes to following up on complaints is seen throughout. Many HR departments have now made it a priority to conduct workshops and seminars to inform employees about harassment and are now being more approachable to complaints.

Research and trends have showed just how important it is to have an inclusive workforce. Diversity in race and gender are needed for companies to succeed. One in every three women is harassed at work; in the form of remarks or actions. Many are afraid of reporting due to fear of losing their jobs. A cultural overhaul is needed in organizations. You may have a friend, a relative, or may have experienced it yourself; harassment can happen to anyone. Firms need to have response teams who are capable of dealing with these issues. Otherwise, we just may be facing one of the worst cultural and systematic problems of the generation.
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