Travis Kakamick and Garrett Camp started Uber in 2009. They were quickly praised as entrepreneurial geniuses for their unique business model. Today, their company is imploding due to poor HR practices and a toxic company culture.
Amazon is an older organization that is facing similar HR challenges. If they aren't addressed, both companies could slowly collapse. HR professionals must pay attention to avoid the same fate.
Many issues plague the company culture at Uber and Amazon
There are many problems with the company culture at Uber and Amazon that go back nearly a decade. While they received little attention until recently, problems with the company culture have seriously damaged both brands. They could both be used as case studies on HR and company culture problems for years to come.
The biggest problems with the company culture at Uber are attributed to sexism. In February, Uber engineer Susan Fowler accused her manager of sexual harassment. Uber promptly conducted an internal probe and determined the company had a serious problem with sexual harassment. They fired over 200 employees as a result of the investigation.
Kakamick stated that he was shocked to hear about the allegations. However, critics swiftly pointed out that senior level management and HR allowed these problems to occur by failing to have preventive guidelines in place.
These allegations work only the beginning. A number of people claim that the views of female employees were not valued. Uber held a meeting to discuss problems with sexism in the company culture, where venture capitalist David Bonderman made a joke against hiring more female board members.
While allegations of sexism have dominated the discussion, there are a number of other problems that have adversely affected the company culture. According to some analysts, pay and company loyalty are even higher on the list of concerns.
What caused many of these problems?
HR is a rapidly growing field, but it faces a number of challenges. The problems at Uber foreshadow some of the things they will need to prepare for.
Uber has been a PR punching bag for months. Practically nobody disputes that it has some serious problems with its company culture. However, Uber and other companies can't learn from unfettered criticism alone. It's also important to discuss the source of the problems.
According to many employees, a lot of these problems stem from Uber's flawed rating system. They feel that the rating system isn't a fair representation of their performance.
Lack of managerial experience is another key problem. Staff report that 63% of company managers have never held a supervisory role before.
All startup founders must eventually come to terms with the fact that they can't create the company culture themselves. However, they should take necessary steps to guided. Above all else, they need to make sure the culture and braces everyone in the organization and creates a feeling of harmony. They must have clear policies on dressing sexism and other problems before they arise. Once they've become a topic for discussion, it is usually too late to change negative perceptions within the company.
Of course, management must be on the same page beforehand. The fact that a senior board member marked the idea of inclusiveness should Uber had some serious problems.
The leadership at Uber and Amazon are starting to realize this, but it will take time for them to dig themselves out of the hole they got into. HR managers in other companies can avoid the maelstrom by tackling these problems before they spiral out of control.