Uber’s Kalanick Scandal and Cost of Toxic Bro Culture

'Opening Belle' author Maureen Sherry weighs in on sexism at big corporations.

June 28, 2017 9:11 am
Maureen Sherry on Uber's Travis Kalanick Scandal, Bro Culture, and Its Fallout
Travis Kalanick, co-founder and chief executive officer of Uber Technologies Inc., listens during a Bloomberg Television interview in Hong Kong, China, on Thursday, July 17, 2014. As Uber disrupts the transportation market around the world, Kalanick said he sees a huge amount of growth for the car-booking service in Hong Kong. (Brent Lewin/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

If you’ve been following RealClearLife‘s coverage of Uber, it’s been like watching a slow-motion car crash: First, there was former CEO Travis Kalanick’s caught-on-video rant; followed by that leaked Kalanick missive instructing employees on how to hook up and take part in bro culture; then, investigations into company culture and a cluster of firings; followed by Kalanick’s leave of absence and subsequent resignation.

Of course, all of that bad behavior (and press) meant bad business for the company, as it lost market share to competitor Lyft.

But the wheels may be coming off because of a climate that’s pervasive far beyond the Uber boardroom.

Maureen Sherry, bestselling author and a former Wall Street managing director, weighed in on PBS Newshour recently in a scathing column.

“Nobody has learned the price of doing business old school more vividly than the newly schooled Travis Kalanick, former CEO of Uber,” writes Sherry.

She’s hoping that Kalanick’s scandal will be used an example to affect greater change in the industry.

The true “disruptor”? Susan Fowler, who blogged about the harassment she endured at the company, argues Sherry.

But what’s sad about the entire situation, notes Sherry, is that this isn’t a first for the business world, but rather one in a long line of similar (but less publicized) issues. “Like Wall Street, Uber has employees sign a binding arbitration agreement so that stories like Fowler’s are never told. These agreements state that cases must be settled privately, and it is well known that money is exchanged for women to keep their mouths shut….But because of Uber, perhaps not anymore.”

This isn’t just a cultural issue, it’s a financial one, too. Sherry drives this home: “Uber and others have seen board attrition, a falling valuation … [and] customers walking away with their wallet and, now, an unemployed CEO. What more evidence do you need?”

Below, watch a 2016 segment from the Newshour featuring Sherry speaking on the matter of Wall Street’s bro culture.

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