Uber CEO to Take Leave, Diminished Role after Workplace Scandals

On Sunday, the board voted unanimously to adopt all the recommendations made by a law firm hired to investigate deep-seated cultural problems, led by former USA attorney general Eric Holder.

In February, former Uber engineer Susan Fowler wrote on a blog that she had been propositioned by her boss in a series of messages on her first day of work and that superiors ignored her complaints.

The Holder report strongly recommended several changes to the company's executive branch, some of which reassign tasks that now belong to Kalanick.

It also suggested establishing protocols for escalating HR complaints, as well as modifying Uber's performance review process to create transparency and provide continuous feedback to employees. "With respect to alcohol consumption at after-hours work events and at other work-sponsored events, Uber should consider limiting the budget available to managers for alcohol purchases, restrict reimbursement for alcohol-related events, and include training for managers on appropriate events for retreats and out-of-work events". The report called on the company to promote fairness and bring accountability to its culture.

Uber's board discussed whether Kalanick should take compassionate leave or adopt a reduced workload on Sunday following the sudden death of his mother two weeks ago, since which he has been on bereavement leave.

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Uber holds its catered dinner for employees at 8:15 p.m., Monday through Friday. That makes him the most high-profile executive departure during Uber's ongoing crises. Uber set up a hotline for complaints after that and hired the law firm of Perkins Coie to investigate.

Fowler was less than impressed by the recommendations, describing it in a tweet as "all optics".

A statement released by early Uber investors Mitch and Freada Kapor said they were encouraged by the "thoughtful and extensive" recommendations. The Kapors had previously blasted the company's culture.

They're also facing a lawsuit from Alphabet, who claims that Uber stole some of the trade secrets behind their self-driving cars.

But others had characterized Michael as a scapegoat.

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Experts interviewed this week by The Associated Press said Kalanick should step aside or at minimum change his behavior for the company to make progress.

Later Tuesday, a comment about women reportedly made by board member David Bonderman at an all-staff meeting drew outrage and reportedly has led to his resignation.

Kalanick did not name a temporary new CEO and it is possible he could stay close to the company during his leave. The U.S. Department of Justice is now investigating Uber for letting its drivers use an app that helps them avoid transportation regulators. Executive compensation should be tied to senior leaders' ability to uphold values such as ethical business practices, diversity and inclusion.

It will also implement the Rooney Rule, a practice used by the National Football League which requires at least one woman and one minority candidate to be interviewed for a position before it is filled. Employees at the company have told media the incidents have shaken their faith in Kalanick as a leader. But much of that leadership team has left or been pushed out.

The chairperson will be key to holding new execs accountable, as Uber looks to fill position including CFO, general counsel and COO.

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