Commentary & Perspective

Five Ways Start-Ups Can Avoid Uber’s Missteps

The Holder report documents a company out of control, without basic oversight from the Board or appropriate internal policies. It also lays bare the need for wholesale change to the tech industry’s toxic culture.

But before we address that report, we recognize the courage of Susan Fowler and countless other women who have spoken up about sexual harassment and gender bias at their companies. We must acknowledge the truth of their statements and their courage in the face of demeaning behavior and personal attacks. Many women in tech face these challenges daily (see Elephant in the Valley – new window for data) and many struggle to build and advance their technical careers against a persistent glass ceiling (see the Anita Borg Institute’s Top Companies for Women Technologists Insights Report – new window).

Covington and Burling’s strong, appropriate recommendations will take time to implement. They will require a long-term commitment, with consistent Board oversight. The report illustrates how deeply embedded this problem can be in start-up culture, and the implications when a company devalues diversity and inclusion at the outset and does not implement appropriate human resources processes early on.

But there are things start-ups can do to avoid the disaster Uber is facing and build great culture with a diverse team. Here are the Anita Borg Institute’s top five recommended strategies:

  1. Build a diverse leadership team from the start – having women and minorities on the leadership team sends a powerful message and will attract diverse talent.
  2. Communicate to the entire organization the value of diversity and leadership’s commitment to it.
  3. Keep track of the actual diversity of your entire workforce and set goals for improvement.
  4. Build HR systems and processes early on that support and promote a diverse and welcoming culture.
  5. Review all recruiting and promotion processes for bias and address it through proven methods (blind resume screening, transparent promotion processes, etc).

We recently ended our partnership with Uber. Learn why we took this rare step.