In the past two weeks, reports of misconduct in the Uber company workplace have surfaced following a Feb. 19 blog post by a former female employee, which highlighted the frequent mishandling of sexual harassment cases. Such reports outline the company’s apparent negligence and most shockingly, the disregard for the recurring sexual harassment of women — a minority within their workplace. In light of these reports and the prevalence of Uber use within the NYU community, students should avoid using the app not only to condemn these shameful actions of sexual harassment but to also encourage an increase in female representation within the Silicon Valley companies that so often lack gender diversity.
Uber’s engineering, product management and scientific positions are comprised of only 15.1 percent female staff combined. Even more disturbing are the reports of sexually explicit email chains, groping and the irresponsible actions by the Uber Human Resources department after these incidents were reported. Due to such distressing conditions, many female employees are forced to transfer departments or quit the company altogether. In response to recent criticism, Uber’s chief executive Travis Kalanick claimed he is devoted to improving the company but he has not yet outlined specific measures the company will take. Although Uber has admitted fault, it is imperative that they experience a decrease in company standing to provide motivation for substantial changes in policy and behavior. Given that it did not see any moral dilemma in this behavior before receiving public criticism, it is likely that considerable monetary losses will be the only catalyst for real improvement.
By boycotting the app, students will be opposing not only the mistreatment of women in the Uber workplace but also the culture of sexism in the tech industry as a whole. Changes to company culture and handling of sexual harassment in the Uber workplace would no doubt offer an improved environment for women and might also set an example for other companies to follow suit.
It may seem arbitrary to simply substitute the Uber app for another transportation service, but given Uber’s influential position within the industry, a widespread protest against the company has the ability to set important standards. Because of New York City’s enormous size and abundance of transportation options, NYU students have the means to make a noticeable impact in Uber’s business. Substituting your Uber app with Lyft, Gett or another ride service to help travel around New York City is a small but impactful step to help denounce sexist conduct while also promoting female inclusion within the tech industry.
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