In an attempt to be transparent about their activities — and as damage control for recent scandals — Uber just released their first diversity report, displaying the number of races and genders hired in different roles. To show they mean business, Uber’s Diversity reports opens with eight large color photographs of four men and four women. Ethnicities are not divulged, but at a guess, I’d say they pictured two Caucasians, two African Americans, three Latinos and one Asian. I wouldn't normally try and take a stab at people's background, but considering this is the first thing you see when you open Uber’s diversity report, I think this is worth mentioning. There's no mention if the people pictured are employees or actors.
Following this, Uber describes the different initiatives (also known as employee resource groups) they’ve set up to help promote diversity in the company and to let “everyone be their authentic self.”
These initiatives are wide reaching, designed to encourage women, people of color, Latinos, veterans, LGBTQ folks, Jewish, parents and the disabled to engage, participate and thrive in the Uber Kingdom. To do this, they’ve created nine separate working groups, with what I think are some rather awkward names. For example, there’s UberHUE for black diversity and culture, Los Uber’s for Latinos, and Shalom for their Jewish Outreach — “to make the world a little smaller by connecting Librettos and Jewbers.”
Because nothing says inclusivity then separating people so explicitly and stereotypically, right?
Continuing in the damage control vein post the string of “Uber is a sexist terrible place to work,” tell-alls, they’ve pledged to dedicate $3 million over the next three years to work on encouraging more women and underrepresented people into the company.
That sounds generous, but let's break down those numbers a little.
Uber drivers surrounds the Ministry of Transportation in Taipei (Photo credit should read SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images)
According to a Bloomberg report, Uber’s net revenue for 2015 was around $5.5 billion. Glassdoor places an average senior software engineers salary at the company at $152,659, which raises to $221,857 including stocks and bonuses, which are typically standard inclusions in an engineer's payment package. In 2015, the company reportedly had 1200 engineers. I’m sure this number has inflated, but let's use that as a basis to be fair.
Not counting benefits, that’s at least $183 million they pay a year to their engineers, with benefits that rises to approximately $266 million a year. Which makes their $1 million a year pledge pretty unsatisfactory — while better than nothing, it seems more public relations stunt than the promise of any real change.
Next, they break down the distribution of gender and ethnicity in the different roles. This reveal is sadly unsurprising.
Uber Tech Roles Report:
In tech roles at the company, men take 84.6% of jobs to women’s 15.4%.
Compared to the other big tech companies, this is less than Google (19% women in tech roles) Apple (23% in tech roles) and barely more than Twitter (15% women in tech roles.)
The ethnicity of these hires breaks down as follows; 47.9% Asian, 46.2% White, Multiracial 2.4%, Hispanic 2.1%, Black 1%, Other 0.4%.
The gender and ethnicity percentages even out more when it comes to non-tech roles and customer support and there’s a push to make the customer support teams more inclusive — though a starred point that says some of the customer support data includes “community support representatives, experts at our Greenlight Hubs, and Exchange Leasing specialists,” doesn't make me feel super positive about these initiatives. It’s great that board member Arianna Huffington is publicly pushing for a jerk-free work environment, but whether that will happen is still up in the air.
Uber’s taken full responsibility for the homogenous culture of their board. “This clearly has to change—a diversity of backgrounds and experience is important at every level,” they write. “This is especially important in leadership, because leaders have a disproportionate influence on the culture of teams. And research shows that leaders from diverse backgrounds are more likely to hire diverse teams themselves.”
The breakdown here is 88.7% of men to 11.3% of women. The ethnicity breakdown for tech leadership roles is 75% White and 25% Asian.
In recent years Silicon Valley companies have taken it upon themselves to address diversity issues in their companies, and then showcase this to the public in the form of a diversity report. The results generally haven't been that encouraging — see Google and Apple above — but they generally get praise for being transparent about their shortcomings. This is fairly unique to the tech industry, as the finance field is known to be male dominated but you don't get every company on Wall Street releasing annual diversity reports with heartfelt promises to try harder. Sure, they have diversity teams and specialist women in business events, but the numbers are creeping up ever so slowly. There are some exceptions of course, — in 2015, the RBC reported 39% of women in leadership roles.
Nonetheless, while Uber’s Diversity report may have been born from fear/desires to do better, it still promises to little and shows a large amount of inequality inside the business. They might be talking the talk now, but how will this pan out over the next year?
Uber’s reputation as a difficult place for female engineers will make it hard for them to attract talent, as salaries and benefits are on par with other companies that are known to be female-friendly places, so finding talent will be a struggle. For now, most female engineers I know in Silicon Valley have no desire to work at Uber, telling me about the ‘terrible culture’ they've heard of, and how women there have to deal with daily sexism, lack of promotions and lack of respect.
To create a change, Uber will need to dedicate far more resources than $3 million into changing company culture, and we’ll have to wait and see what their cost-benefit analysis says about that.