Uber ‘Appropriately’ Investigated Allegations Against HR Chief

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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The transport firm’s head of human resources, Liane Hornsey, resigned this week following a discrimination probe

Allegations against Uber Technology’s head of human resources, Liane Hornsey, were investigated “appropriately”, the company has said, following Hornsey’s resignation this week.

Hornsey is the latest to leave Uber under chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi, who replaced Travis Kalanick in August of last year following a series of scandals.

An anonymous group of whistleblowers had accused her of systematically dismissing internal complaints of racial discrimination and of using derogatory language about two other Uber executives.

Hornsey left shortly after Reuters contacted Uber about an investigation into the matter by the company’s legal firm, Gibson Dunn. The allegations only became known publicly after her departure.

Liane Hornsey resigned from Uber on Tuesday. Credit: Uber

‘Positive change’

Uber said the most recent complaints had been looked into in a “thorough” manner.

“We are confident that the investigation was conducted in an unbiased, thorough and credible manner, and that the conclusions of the investigation were addressed appropriately,” Uber said in a statement.

Hornsey’s move raises questions about Khosrowshahi’s success in changing the corporate culture at Uber, where widespread allegations of gender discrimination and sexual harassment triggered a formal internal investigation that led to Kalanick’s resignation last year.

Hornsey had been the head of Uber’s human resources department for about 18 months.

She emailed staff on Tuesday to announce her departure, saying it “comes a little out of the blue for some of you”, but that she had been “thinking about this for a while”.

Khosrowshahi said in a separate email to staff that Hornsey had led Uber through “a period of enormous positive change”, calling her “incredibly talented, creative, and hard-working”.

Neither gave a reason for Hornsey’s exit.

Whistleblowers

The whistleblowers also alleged that complaints filed to Uber’s anonymous tip line were often left unresolved and were dismissed, especially if they pertained to race issues.

Hornsey had previously served in high-level human resources positions at SoftBank and Google.

Last year’s discrimination scandal at Uber stemmed in part from a February 2017 blog post by respected programmer Susan Fowler, in which she described widespread sexist behaviour at the company that extended to its upper executive ranks.

Uber has also faced criticism over practices invasive of users’ privacy and a major 2016 data breach that was kept secret by the company.

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