Under fire at home for its work culture, the beleaguered Silicon Valley ridesharing platform also insulted women in India
New boss, same problems.
Uber’s Bangalore operations sent out a note to customers on Sunday—or wife appreciation day for some—encouraging customers to use its uberEats food delivery service to spare their wives from meal preparation drudgery. “Let your wife take a day off from the kitchen,” the company wrote in a note attached to a 100 rupee ($1.50) discount coupon.
The reaction from social media was overwhelmingly negative, with more than a handful of Twitter users pondering why wives necessarily had to work in the kitchen. (That said, the BBC reports that most local media in India’s tech capital ignored the online brouhaha.) There were also unconfirmed reports that Uber Bangalore had previously sent out jokes playing off gender stereotypes.
Uber quickly apologized for the wife appreciation day email on Twitter, noting that the campaign was “inappropriate.”
— Hemanth.HM (@GNUmanth) September 16, 2017
The company’s top female executive, chief brand officer Bozoma Saint John, also chimed in. “Oh hell no. This is completely unacceptable,” she wrote in response to an irate complainant on Twitter. “Will take care of this.”
Oh hell no. This is completely unacceptable. Will take care of this.
— Bozoma Saint John (@badassboz) September 17, 2017
Of course, Uber is no stranger when it comes to dealing with charges of sexism. Its former chief executive, Travis Kalanick, was forced out in part because of allegations that a culture of workplace misogyny developed under his watch. Former Expedia chief Dara Khosrowshahi, who made efforts to foster a more gender-inclusive environment at his former company, was recently appointed as his successor.
Gender power imbalances have long been a global issue and is widely regarded as a factor limiting economic development in both rich and poor countries. Female labor force participation in India dipped from 42.6% to 31.2% between 1994 and 2012, largely because women spend a disproportionate amount of time doing domestic chores.
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