Can Uber Ever Attract Talent Again?

I’m truly not in envy of the Talent Acquisition leader at Uber right now.

Since the damning blog written by ex-employee, Susan Fowler, emerged a little more than week ago, the ridesharing firm has suffered a ferocious backlash from the public and media in the US. It was claimed that CEO Travis Kalanick and the leadership team had ignored multiple sexual harassment and gender discrimination complaints in favour of protecting male workers. The company’s work culture has also been described as sexist, toxic and aggressive.

Even though actions have been taken to mitigate the fallout from the blog, it would seem the storm has only just began to brew. Emboldened by Fowler’s revelations, news of other female Uber workers signing up onto anonymous chat groups to discuss sexism in the workplace started filtering through and things are certainly looking ominous for the company.

With a chequered past and a brand that has been battered by these allegations, is there any way back for the world’s most richly valued private technology company? Can it ever rebuild its reputation and be able to attract top talent to work for them again? What if you were facing the same issues as Uber’s Talent Acquisition leader? What can you do to salvage the situation?

Here are some steps you could do:

Keep the Talent pool informed

Keeping your Talent pool updated on the latest developments will help to minimise the rumour mill and reduce the amount of negative speculations.

One of the ways this could be done is via investing more time and effort into addressing comments on employer review sites such as Glassdoor and SEEK’s Company Reviews. It might be daunting at first when confronted with a deluge of criticisms but engaging with your audience and speaking to them in a rationale manner is the only way you can resolve these issues. It’s time to overcome your fears and embrace these anonymous company review sites.

Social media has also proven to be one of the most important channels of communications during a crisis and you, as a Talent Acquisition leader, should be making more use of it to connect with your Talent pool. Remember it is always better to over communicate than allow the rumours to fill the void and take over the agenda. With the 24/7, continuous nature of today’s news cycle, you will always need to be prepared to address your candidates.

Be honest and open about diversity

There is no denying in that there is a diversity problem at Uber. Kalanick said as much when he revealed that just over 15 percent of the company’s engineering, product management, and scientist roles are filled by women – a figure that is similar to or less than other large technology firms. So there is really no avoiding of this issue and the Talent leader will need to be very honest and transparent about what the company is going to do moving forward.

If you face a similar problem, get ready for tough conversations and be prepared to walk the talk if your company is serious about addressing these issues. That includes getting all senior executives on board and ensuring that diversity is a priority for everyone.

As keynote speaker Carmen Hudson said recently during the Sourcing Social Talent 2017, the building of a diverse workforce is not just a Talent leader’s responsibility – it involves everyone. It requires a concerted effort from all. Only then can an organisation set itself up to truly embrace diversity.

Crisis as an opportunity

A company in crisis is an opportunity for change. When an organisation is hit by a scandal, it can be a great chance to rethink the existing culture and the way it has been conducting business. As a Talent Acquisition leader, you have access to all the Talent and an in depth knowledge on how the business is run from across all levels. There is really no better qualified person than you to stand up and lead the way for change.

Will you accept the challenge?

Image: Shutterstock


If you’re interested in how to keep on top of the constantly changing world of talent, engagement, and recruitment, check out the Australasian Talent Conference, starting 21st June.

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