Uber recruiter to tech industry: ‘Sexism is systemic’
Uber is failing at step one: Admit you have a problem.
The latest example comes via a tweet from Kamilah Taylor, a senior software engineer and coauthor of Women In Tech, who was recently approached by Uber hiring’s team with a job offer.
@nrrrdcore ? You should see this actual exchange I had with a hiring manager there a couple weeks ago. pic.twitter.com/yrabqc7e7k
— kamilah taylor ⚡️ (@kamilah) March 22, 2017
So per Uber HR, they do "understand" the concern of "Uber’s questionable business practices and sexism," as Taylor brilliantly phrased it.
But rather than immediately accept that and share what they are doing to change the problem, the representative instead decides to blame… society?
"I just want to say that sexism is systemic in tech and other industries," the rep said.
We have a five-question interview with Taylor below but first, let’s unpack Uber’s response.
First, sexism CAN BE a systemic problem at companies. I am not here to deny that. But, why in god’s name are you throwing the whole industry under the bus instead of saying how YOU will fix things?
@nrrrdcore So is the argument that there is no systemic sexism or is it that Uber is just one of many with systemic sexism? pic.twitter.com/gGoOt0C2sU
— kamilah taylor ⚡️ (@kamilah) March 22, 2017
Second, you say you’ve met "some of the most inspiring people here." Alright, same. But I’ve met a ton of female engineers and product managers in Silicon Valley who have interviewed at Uber and would never work there, even before former Uber engineer Susan Fowler Rigetti blew the whistle.
One former engineer I spoke to told me, "I knew two women engineers who both experienced psychological trauma after being at Uber."
The Huffington Post founder and Uber board member Arianna Huffington has said she will put "feet to the fire" to get the apparent problems fixed.
Huffington is not leading the investigation into the workplace culture at Uber and Rigetti’s allegation, rather it’s Eric Holder (you’re welcome, Uber PR!). But if she’s having conversations with employees at Uber, she might want to start talking to Uber recruiters.
Here’s what Uber PR had to say in response to Taylor’s claims, first reported by The Guardian:
“We are investigating but this message was not sanctioned by Uber’s recruiting department.”
The company said it was also working to improve its recruitment efforts by “ensuring we have diverse panels of trained interviewers”
Here’s what Uber PR added in an email to Mashable:
Earlier this week our chief HR officer Liane Hornsey spoke about ways we our recruiting efforts overall:
"We’re focusing on improving candidate experience, ensuring we have diverse panels of trained interviewers. We are running interview training for women in tech to ensure our female employees are really well equipped to be involved."
And lastly, here’s our interview with Taylor:
1. Take me through what you experienced in Uber’s recruiting
"So it’s not the first time that Uber has reached out to me. They hire a lot of people so they’ve reached out to a lot of engineers recently. I was surprised that they did the cold reach out right now in midst of the scandal. I thought they would have toned down their process.
That’s why I responded. I was shocked they were carrying on business as usual. They can’t just pretend that nothing has happened. This is now completely out in the open. Everything that has been whispered about for years. She [the recruiter] didn’t respond for awhile. In that I found out that my friend had been contacted as well and she responded to him. Then, she responded to me."
2. Why did you respond the way you did?
"I’ve had many friends that have worked at Uber over the years, some of whom are still employed, and I have not heard great things. It’s a deeply personal issue for me. I know that the situation is bad internally. I wanted to get that message through, that this is not normal."
3. What was your first reaction to the #DeleteUber movement and then Susan’s letter?
"I was not that surprised with [Uber’s actions] following the Muslim ban because it seemed like Uber’s standard business practices. I think i was sort of unfazed. That’s Uber.
With Susan’s story, I had sort of started to hear some of it again [from] internal sources so when it came out I was not that surprised sadly, but I was surprised by how much traction the story was gaining, in a good way."
4. Do you agree to the claim that sexism is ‘systemic’ throughout the tech industry?
"I agree with the claims that there is a lot of sexism in industry and tech is an industry. Yes, there is sexism, but I don’t agree with her claim that this I just what you find anywhere, that this is no different than anywhere else. That’s where I draw the line."
5. What do you think Uber should do now, in regards to recruiting and other operations?
"I think they really need to sort of take this as a moment to reflect on their entire process and realize that until it’s actually very clear to us in the industry that they’re actually trying to fix this internally, nothing’s going to change.
Right now the efforts do not feel sincere. As long as that is true, they can’t act like this is normal. My male friend independently had sent a similar response. This isn’t just women in the tech industry. We all are watching if your efforts sincere."