Uber CEO Travis Kalanick promised an "urgent investigation" Sunday night after a former employee's blog post described the company as an uber-sexist place to work. In the post, engineer Susan Fowler calls her year at Uber "strange, fascinating, and slightly horrifying," recounting how on her first day on a team, she was harassed with messages from a manager who was clearly seeking sex. ("He was trying to stay out of trouble at work, he said, but he couldn't help getting in trouble, because he was looking for women to have sex with.") She says complaints to HR and management were met with indifference; she was told "they wouldn't feel comfortable punishing him for what was probably just an innocent mistake on his part." She later met other women in the company who experienced similar harassment from the same manager.
Fowler says that amid a "game-of-thrones political war" between management factions, female engineers deserted Uber, with the proportion dropping from 25% to below 6% by the time she left in December last year. She says that in one especially ridiculous moment, all employees were promised leather jackets—but women were later told that they wouldn't be receiving them because there weren't enough of them for a bulk order to be placed. Kalanick tweeted that the behavior Fowler described is "abhorrent" and that he has instructed the company's HR chief to conduct an "urgent investigation." "There can be absolutely no place for this kind of behavior at Uber—and anyone who behaves this way or thinks this is OK will be fired," he said in a statement to the San Francisco Chronicle. (Read more Uber stories.)