HOW A SINGLE BLOG POST SHOOK UBER TO ITS MARROW, LESSONS FOR BRAND MANAGERS

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The New York Times broke the story reporting that five of Uber’s major investors had reached an agreement, demanding that the founder/CEO Mr. Travis Kalanick “immediately leave” and that the company “needed a change in leadership.” They communicated their demands via a letter to Mr. Kalanick, entitled “Moving Uber Forward.”

This has no doubt been a challenging time for the former chief executive, who lost his mother last month to a tragic boating accident (that also left his father seriously injured).

“I love Uber more than anything in the world and at this difficult moment in my personal life I have accepted the investors request to step aside so that Uber can go back to building rather than be distracted with another fight,” said Mr. Kalanick in a statement.

The Power of a Single Blog Post

I’ve followed Uber from the beginning, and it’s been a wild ride writes Justin Bariso, Author of EQ, APPLIED and TIME Contributor.

“Many of you may remember the horrifying allegations that were published just four months ago by Susan Fowler, a former engineer at Uber, on her personal blog”.

In telling her story, Ms. Fowler accused various members of Uber’s management team of: explicit sexual harassment, gender discrimination, intentional deception, career sabotage and illegal threats of termination of employment.

What makes this noteworthy is how quickly these allegations snowballed, turning Uber’s world upside down.

Justin in his LinkedIn write-up on the issue recounts that since Ms. Fowler published her account, the following events took place:

  • Former Attorney General Eric Holder began a major investigation into the company’s practices and management style
  • Numerous executives fled the company on their own volition (or were soon fired)
  • Another 20 employees were fired over claims of inappropriate behavior
  • A prominent member of Uber’s board resigned after a comment was leaked that many felt was sexist
  • Uber brought aboard Wan Ling Martello, head of Nestle Asia, as its second female board member
  • Uber loses market share to chief competitor Lyft
  • Travis Kalanick, Uber’s founder, resigns as CEO
  • It’s amazing to consider that this has all happened in (less than) four months.

Lessons for Marketers/Managers

Despite above these issues, some very worrisome, the true lessons for Time contributor include:

  • Ensure your organization is transparent, or someone else will.
  • In a world that is extremely interconnected, there are no more secrets. What happens at Uber does not have to stay in Uber, and what happens at your company will not stay there, either.
  • To lead effectively, you must make sure you’re not just naming values, but living them.
  • And if there are complaints, follow up—on every. Single. One.
  • You are not alone.
  • One of the reasons Ms. Fowler’s blog post went viral, is because she was speaking up for so many others. Not just women, but anyone who has had to put up with a lack of respect and common decency at work.
  • If you take away anything from these events, may it be this:
  • Whatever you’re going through, you’re not the only one. If you can find the courage to share your story, you can make a difference.

Credit for additional reports: Justin Bariso, Author of EQ, APPLIED

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