#DeleteUber, Why?

A former Uber employee’s disturbing claims of workplace sexism reignite calls to #deleteUber

https://www.recode.net/2017/2/20/14666572/uber-sexism-susan-fowler-delete-uber

One of our group projects looks at UBER as their choice of organization. So this news regarding their gender discrimination issue grabs my attention.

This issue came as moral issues regarding UBER, and its impact is getting increasingly bigger. And the criticism  seems to spread like a wildfire.
Uber is IT technology that looks smart and innovative. This kind of image and human values are are heavily related to “silicon valley liberal mainstream,” yet this sexism issue appears to clearly hurt their image and ignite a massive boycott,  which has disrupted their business.

Uber is not the only IT tech company who has faced this kind of criticism and boycotting. In its early days, Google also faced a similar sexism issue with the revelation of an internal document by an anonymous staff member .

A Google employee inflames a debate about sexism and free speech

https://www.economist.com/news/business/21726078-sacked-james-damore-has-become-hero-alt-right-google-employee-inflames-debate-about

How do you think this ethical consumerism, especially regarding gender sensitivity, could be managed on social media and through effective engagement with the public?

What kind of follow-up messages should be heard by the consumers?

What makes this kind of issue one of moral inequity and social injustice beyond mere gender politics?

Hope to see your thoughts and comments! Any thoughts would be welcomed.

Kyu

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7 thoughts on “#DeleteUber, Why?

  1. I feel that companies should first acknowledge and apologise to the victim and to all consumers through social media in a timely manner. They should also let the public know that such behaviour is not tolerated and that it would be followed up with. The company could do so by issuing updates through their various social media channels regarding the progress of the case, and a chat/forum function where they would answer all/selected questions that the public has regarding the issue. This would show sincerity in resolving the issue and more importantly, transparency to its customers.

    They should also reach out to former employees who have been affected and apologise to them/provide compensation. This could turn these former employees into possible advocates for the brand that just might help post content on their social media pages that put the company involved in a much more positive light.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I agree with what Bryan has mentioned. Based on the article, it seems that Uber’s human resources team did not managed the situation well. When Kalanick claimed that it was “first time this has come to my attention”, it sounded insincere and he does not seemed to be acknowledging the fact something inappropriate happened. He should have first acknowledge the issue and apologise. The follow ups of the case investigation should also be disseminated through his social media platforms to update the public about progress. It is important to show their sincerity in solving this issue.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. UBER is essentially a different entity from the people who work in it. Having said that, the human resource representatives who ignored the reports on sexual harassment (https://www.susanjfowler.com/blog/2017/2/19/reflecting-on-one-very-strange-year-at-uber) had to make a decision based on the company’s best interest. It is possible that they were disgusted by the manager’s actions toward Fowler but could not dismiss him due to his significance in the company. Nevertheless, the upper management should have issued a warning to him so that there is no reason for UBER to not dismiss him if he were to repeat his offense. To make matters worse, many other female workers were also sexually harassed by the same manager and despite their effort to write in reports to upper management, their collective opinion seem to get ignored by the HR too frequently. By not taking action against harassment, it is clear that UBER prioritises the importance of their staff by performance and not behaviour or character because they are result-oriented. To no surprise, it stirred a lot of flak on social media which led to the deletion of UBER accounts. Ultimately, their profits decreased. Had they not thought that the company would have been better off if they had just fired the manager? I feel that because of their inaction regarding the matter, there was no way they could appease the public or even defend themselves other than to offer a public apology and admit their mistake. This would only be deemed as a reasonable reply to the public and would only placate them for a while. I quote and believe that “No matter how well-intentioned, decency pledges won’t cut it” Noreen Farrell, the executive director of Equal Rights Advocates mentioned in an interview. 

    Thus, this issue definitely tarnished UBER’s reputation even further. After the CEO made a public apology on the matter, it is natural for the public to assume that the company shifted their attention to workplace harassment and work towards mitigating the issue of gender stereotypes in their organisation. However, months after the Fowler incident, UBER’s CEO Travis Kalanick stepped down because he mentioned a sexist joke during an interview which came as a shock to public. I think that UBER has very poor public engagement skills in that there is no clear differentiation of what’s appropriate to say and what’s considered a taboo given that they also published some sexist advertisements prior to Fowler’s case. It is clear to the public the kind of example that’s set in the working environment. UBER can shift the public’s attention by gradually starting to show their support for gender-equality by a few means. They can follow equal rights advocates on Twitter and retweet tweets that support gender-equality. Also, they can publish articles on their workers’ thoughts on gender equality surrounding the issue of workplace harassment. Of course, all these articles have to be vetted by UBER’s marketing team to ensure that there are no insensitive/offensive remarks. To conclude, I feel that UBER should steer clear of any topics gender-related unless they can prove to the public that they have reformed their workplace environment to make it safe and emplace a strict rule against gender stereotypes.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve been reading a lot on Uber lately. What caught my attention was the fact that Uber’s license to operate in London will be officially ceased after 30th September due to Uber’s poor safety regulations (BBC, 2017). There have also been ongoing market speculations that Uber may be driven out of the Singapore market as Uber’s taxi incentives appeared to be less attractive as compared to Grab by the traditional taxi drivers. All these negative news about Uber made me pondered strongly was it because of their poor social media strategies/skills that they failed to manage multiple stakeholders’ expectations….

    I came to a conclusion that Uber’s tarnished reputation was largely stemmed from their poor social media management skills. In a pursuit of driving high revenues and expanding their market share, Uber seemed to overlook their main target market’s sentiments, which is their customers who are largely avid users of social media. The #DeleteUber campaign was a good example to prove the fact that Uber did not weigh the cons of lifting the surge pricing which resulted in an impression that Uber was in favor of the Muslim-travel ban (The Guardian, 2017). If and only if Uber considered the sentiment of their core target market, this riot could have been prevented.

    While I strongly agreed with my fellow coursemates that ethical consumerism can be managed effectively through prompt communication with the various involved stakeholders. I would like to add the point that Uber needs to incorporate human-centric brands such as morality and personability in their social media strategies. I believe, through these human-centric brand, Uber can interact and connect with their audience as not just a service provider, but rather as a partner when it comes to transportation. Inculcating these brands may be a struggle, however, as this might involved a transformative change in Uber’s resources, processes, and the core element of a company which is-
    culture.

    Nonetheless, the fact that a change of leadership has been demanded and executed alongside Uber commitment to reform its corporate culture, let’s hope that things will get better for Uber.

    References:
    (1) http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-41358640?ocid=socialflow_facebook&ns_mchannel=social&ns_campaign=bbcnews&ns_source=facebook
    (2) https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jan/30/deleteuber-how-social-media-turned-on-uber
    (3) https://thinkprogress.org/travis-kalanick-uber-resigns-a8537d468f11/

    P.S: In an attempt to improve my writing skills, please feel free to provide me constructive feedback on how I could express myself better! Looking forward to learning from all of you!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I think there is a strong correlation between their poor customer care/social media management and the quality of the service/operation of theie app. It’s been a while since I moved to Grab from Uber, as I often felt lost and ignored or neglected/overlooked when I use Uber app.

    I don’t know why they opened drivers’ evaluation scores on a rider. No customer in the world would be very happy about the feeling of being judged.
    I think overall, their service failed to deliver human-centric values although they share almost the same driver pool in Singapore with Grab.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Cheryl, thank you for sharing! I agree with the points you’ve shared – Uber definitely did not manage its social media platforms well and seemed to have underestimated the impact that viral hashtags and united voices of activists can do to one’s reputation.

    I would like to add on to your point that Uber needs to incorporate human-centric brands: What I learned from the whole #DeleteUber campaign was that Uber simply need to realise that they are no longer irreplaceable. As Prof KyuJin has shared, there are other substitutes such as Grab and even more across the globe such as Lyft and Juno etc. So if they really want to regain loyalty from not only their customers but their employers and drivers as well as rekindle bonds, having more human-centric values could be a good start.

    Furthermore, what Uber as well as other organisations can learn is that social media campaigns such as #DeleteUber are easy to be a part of. Because deleting an app is free. Which is why a lot of people do it, including those who may not have been activists to begin with but are influenced by others. Knowing that they do not need to put in much to ruin an organisation’s reputation, they will do it. So Uber and other organisations should be more aware and proactive when a threatening activist movement online begins.

    Liked by 2 people

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