Huffington is leading damage control at the ridesharing company, following explosive charges of misogynist culture
Arianna Huffington doesn’t put up with jerks.
The Huffington Post co-founder and CEO of wellness company Thrive Global, who is an Uber board member, led a recent conference call about a former Uber employee’s sexual harassment allegations, in which she said “going forward there can be no room at Uber for brilliant jerks.”
The employee, engineer Susan Fowler, claimed in an explosive blogpost that a manager prepositioned her for sex and the company retaliated against her when she complained. She described a “game-of-thrones political war raging within the ranks of upper management” of her department.
Huffington had generally taken an understated role at the company, but her presence has increased following the resignation of a top executive appointed to spruce up the company’s image and a viral video of CEO Travis Kalanick arguing with a driver. She’s now doing almost all the talking on the claims of sexual misconduct. The media entrepreneur has said that Uber will publicly disclose and abide by the results of an in-house investigation into claims made by Fowler, a former site reliability engineer.
Though Huffington previously decried Silicon Valley “machismo [that] signals to women they’re not welcome,” she also told CNN earlier this week that while “there were some bad apples…this was not a systemic problem.”
Some have questioned if Huffington is the right person to reform Uber, an eight-year-old company now valued at up to $70 billion. Vanity Fair described her management style at the Huffington Post as “capricious” in a two-part series about her departure from her namesake website. The engineer and diversity advocate Julie Ann Horvath has also pointed out that “as a board member and investor in Uber, Huffington stands to benefit from the sweeping of any sexism claims under the rug.”
Huffington didn’t immediately return a request for comment.
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