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Female Related Issues In Uber

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UBER was established in 2009 by Garrett Camp, it is a transportation network company (TNC). Its headquarters are situated in California, San Francisco. Initially, Uber provided only a ride/taxi service but recently it has added many more facilities to its mobile phone app such as UBEREATS which is a food delivery application, a bicycle-sharing system, and a peer-to-peer ridesharing. Uber has completely revamped the meaning of the word “taxi”. It no longer means having to shell out exorbitant amount of dollars on rides. With a 69% market share in America, Uber has a 100 million users across the world (Scott 2016).

In a recent poll, it was discovered that Uber has over 3 million drivers globally, and this number continues to rise every day (Madrigal 2018).

Summary

“Where there is good, there is also the bad, and the ugly”. Uber has been under fire for many reasons in the past. These reasons range from safety issues to legal issues.

From their company lacking senior executives, to Uber going broke, to their biggest fear of driveless cars becoming a reality soon, and their pending legal battle with Waymo, Uber has its fair-share of controversies and issues going on around. But one of the largest and most controversial issue they have worldwide are their cases of misconduct, sexual harassment and assault by their drivers (Business Week, New York 2014).

Most of us have used or sat in an Uber at least at some point in our lives, and because of its popularity and cheap prices, we assume it is safe. That is not always the case. Reports from all around the world have female customers of Uber speaking up against the harassment, misconduct and even sexual assault they have been a victim of. Many of these women use the application after work hours, or a late-night party. These were the times when the highest number of reports against the drivers were filed (The Mercury 2018).

Since the company’s launch in 2010, thousands of female passengers have experienced unlawful conduct by their Uber drivers including rape, physical violence, threats, sexual assault and gender-motivated harassment.

This issue is no longer about a “rogue” driver who did not follow the rules, but instead it has turned into a widespread issue. Thousands of incidents have occurred in many countries where Uber employees’ drivers such as India, United Kingdom, United States, Australia and Canada. All these reports and incidents have forced several high-level Uber employees to resign from the company. An example of their former CEO Travis Kalanick, who left Uber in June 2018, faced criticism and backlash for fostering a culture of sexism and bullying at the company (Kukura 2017).

When a company as big as Uber faces these many number of crises in a short amount of time, it puts a company on its heels and increases difficulties on several fronts, including raising questions about the nature of its corporate culture.

However, another way to assess the overall situation and recognize the magnitude of it all for Uber is that these controversies and incidents are negatively impacting its four major stakeholder groups which are crucial for business success and legitimacy.

Analysis

Uber has been sued multiple times when it comes to cases pertaining to its safety issues. The reports and law-suits started surfacing back in 2011, but the company always chose to use the arbitration method in order to avoid these cases going viral in the public eye. Uber and its employees always liked to play it safe and they did for quite a few years. This was the case until the reports and claims started flooding the social networking sites, and the women who were the victims in these cases refused to accept the company’s hush-hush money. The incidents of stalking, threats, assault, attacks were shared across various platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. This was Uber’s worst nightmare come true. The entire company, especially the PR team was working day and night to curb these claims and charges against them and show the company in an innocent light. As more and more women started sharing their past disastrous experiences with the company and its drivers’, the more their reputation was becoming tarnished (Berger 2018). Earlier in 2014, Uber claimed they had no knowledge as to what was going on with their drivers and customers, but it is no surprise that they knew all along which is why the company tried so hard to keep everything under wraps. Things spread pretty fast on SNS especially when they’re negative. Initially, Uber failed to address the assault allegations by implementing sterner regulations on drivers, but instead prioritized on maintaining cost levels low for the company. This isn’t the first time Uber has been criticized on its background checks being too careless and lax.

In April 2016, a female resident of Washington DC, sued Uber for negligence and consumer protection violations, after she was physically attacked by one of the ride-hail company’s drivers. The victim claims Uber portrays itself as a safe method of transport for women, especially if they have been drinking or are too intoxicated to drive on their own, when in reality they are putting those women in harm’s way.

Two years ago, CNN reported that around 103 Uber drivers in the States had been accused of sexually assaulting, abusing, threatening and stalking their passengers over a period of four years. “At least 31 drivers have been convicted for crimes ranging from forcible touching and false imprisonment to rape, and dozens of criminal and civil cases are pending, CNN found. In June 2017, a Kansas City woman sued Uber after she was raped by a driver, claiming the company ignored warnings about the driver’s criminal history” (Abedi 2017)

After a very public corporate drama, and unfolding of events and stories, Uber’s Chief Executive Travis Kalanick resigned from the company towards the end of 2017. New York Times reported that Kalanick, who helped established Uber in 2009, resigned after five of the company’s major investors pursued his removal as the CEO.

“In recent months, the $70 billion company has been bogged down by some serious allegations of sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and a toxic work environment. The growing anger toward the company had also spurred an evacuation of top executives over the past months. Kalanick, too, has come under severe pressure, particularly for the way he has handled the allegations.”

We believe if Kalanick and his PR team handled the issues better and in a more professional manner, he would have stayed on as the CEO and the company wouldn’t have to endure criticism and losses on such a large scale.

But we also contemplate that Uber’s true unravelling began when Susan Fowler, a former engineer at Uber, published a blog post about her year at the company. In it, she wrote thorough allegations about sexual harassment by her boss and the HR department’s unwillingness to take any action.

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The story was published on February 19, 2017 emphasizing on the widespread misogyny at Uber and a corporate culture which is hostile towards women (The Financial Times 2017)

How Uber Identified and Tackled the Issue

MEGAPHONE ACTIVITY

The safety issue we have been talking about had already turned into a crisis as it costed the company its reputation and millions of dollars. It is no doubt that Uber certainly took a long time to take the right action, but when it did, it tried to do as much right as it was possible to save the company’s status and start over to gain its customers’ trust back.

First, Uber’s former CEO issued a very public apology in London after the transport authority decided not to renew the company’s license to operate in the city.

Second, Uber launched a campaign in December 2017 called the ‘180 Days of Change: Building a True Partnership, Together’. The campaign promised to make meaningful changes to improve and mend the relationships between the company and its employees; the employees and the customers; and the customers and the company. Throughout this time period, 38 new features and improvements – from paid wait time to in-app tipping to 24/7 phone support were added. This campaign also enabled drivers to give the company feedback about its new products or policies. A few days after the launch of the campaign, there were slight positive changes in Uber’s biggest markets such as the Middle East and Europe (Schildkrout, Holt 2017)

Third, the company started taking small steps towards a more positive and progressive corporate culture following lawsuits, accusations that appeared to reveal aggressive business practices and a harmful workplace environment. Uber fired more than 20 employees after a deep company investigation for sexual harassment, bullying and other causes (Solon 2017)

Finally, in March 2018, a group of women sent an open letter to Uber’s board asking to be released from the compulsory arbitration policy in the app’s terms and conditions. The company decided to listen to its customers for the greater good, hence making a chief policy change for its US operations. Uber announced in the media that “it is ending its policy of mandatory arbitration for individual claims of sexual assault or sexual harassment by Uber drivers, riders or employees” (Snider 2018)

“It is also ending the requirement that victims sign a confidentiality provision preventing them from speaking about the sexual assault or sexual harassment they suffered — saying survivors will now have the option to settle their claims with Uber without having to agree to being publicly silenced in order to do so.”

MAGNET ACTIVITY

After issuing a public apology in London, Uber personally emailed apologies to all its current and former riders and employees. “Riders were told by email that Uber had recently ‘faced some hard truths,’ and, in the course of its rapid and enormous expansion, had ‘failed to prioritize the people that helped get them here.’

The company also said it had ‘fallen short’ in making sure riders, drivers, and staff were satisfied with their experiences, and gave users a run-down of Uber’s remedying actions since their internal controversies first gained steam last summer” (Kirka, Krisher 2017)

Uber invested in a 24-hour operating customer care service for its riders, drivers as well as employees. People here can lodge their complaints, feedbacks, suggestions and enquiries.

The company then took to its social media platforms and decided to expand it. Now in addition to its original page on Instagram and Twitter, Uber made different accounts for its major markets. For instance, UberIndia, UberUK, UberUAE, UberAustralia etc. This helps Uber be alert of everything that is going on its markets across the globe. This is a smart way of touching bases with one’s audience.

MONOTORING ACTIVITY

Uber monitors its customers and riders via its social media accounts which are sprawled over Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and their interaction with each other. That is why the idea of creating a separate page for all its major markets was a good one. It enables the company to stay ahead of the customer’s demands and needs creating a sustainable relationship between the two.

After each ride a customer takes, Uber asks them for a rating for the driver out of five, a review of the trip and the app. And the same way the driver gets a short survey in which they rate the customer. These kinds of surveys make the company aware about their customer and what can be done in the future to cater to their needs better.

Evaluation and Recommendation

After facing backlash, criticism and losing millions of dollars in lawsuits, Uber transformed itself and the company’s entire corporate structure for the better. It started by issuing public apologies, sending apologies via emails to its customers, firing senior level executives, and launching a 180-day campaign. All of this was done to gain their riders respect and trust all over again. Uber made a number of policy changes including the removal of mandatory arbitration, introduced a more stricter background check for its employees including the drivers whether they were short-term or long-term. For Uber, it was deemed necessary to change its previously toxic work environment. The company was successful in getting its estranged customers back, but it still has a long way to go. Uber can take more such measures to make the customer’s experience enhanced and most importantly, safe.

For instance, they can start by hiring more female drivers because first, it would mean more employed women and second, it might make the female riders feel safer.

Another thing Uber can do to increase its safety measure is to make it mandatory to install a dash cam in each car employed under the company. This camera would record the events of the entire trip, both the parties (rider and driver) would be aware of its presence. This may be helpful in reducing crimes pertaining to physical assault, misconduct, sexual harassment as people are scared of being identified and caught.

Another alternative the company may apply is to make it compulsory for the drivers to go through an intensive training program. This type of program would cover the basics, like how to deal with different types of customers, what to do in an event of an accident, how to handle various situations and so on.

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Female Related Issues In Uber. (2021, October 04). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 9, 2022, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/female-related-issues-in-uber/
“Female Related Issues In Uber.” Edubirdie, 04 Oct. 2021, edubirdie.com/examples/female-related-issues-in-uber/
Female Related Issues In Uber. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/female-related-issues-in-uber/> [Accessed 9 Dec. 2022].
Female Related Issues In Uber [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2021 Oct 04 [cited 2022 Dec 9]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/female-related-issues-in-uber/
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