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Uber Senior Executive Resigns After Racial Discrimination Allegations

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In an email to staff yesterday, Uber’s Chief People Officer, Liane Hornsey announced her resignation from the company. This resignation comes shortly after an investigation regarding allegations against Hornsey that claim she systematically dismissed complaints of racial discrimination within the firm.

Hornsey has been the head of the company’s HR department for the past 18 months, and has spoken many times on diversity and discrimination issues. An email sent by Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi to the staff regarding this matter, but interestingly does not mention any specific reason for her resignation. Commenting on her departure, Khosrowshahi notes:

“I am writing to let you know that earlier today Liane told me that she is leaving the company. Liane joined Uber in January 2017, and since then she has led our People & Places teams through a period of enormous positive change.”

According to Reuters, an anonymous group of employees, all of them people of colour, alleged that Hornsey used “discriminatory language” and made “derogatory comments” about high-level executives at Uber.

“We are confident that the investigation was conducted in an unbiased, thorough and credible manner, and that the conclusions of the investigation were addressed appropriately,” an Uber spokesperson said in a statement.

Image: Liane Hornsey

Hornsey, who joined the company in January, 2017, did not address the probe in her email. “By now you’ll have seen the news that I’ve decided to leave Uber. I know this comes a little out of the blue for some of you, but I have been thinking about this for awhile,” she wrote in the email.

“We have traditionally underinvested in HR. But since I joined in January, I’ve since doubled the size of my team and now we have many more processes in place so people can come to us quickly and more importantly, we can take swift action. For example, we have a new employee relations team, who are solely dedicated to addressing people’s concerns. We have a zero tolerance for bad behaviour at Uber now,” she added.

Hornsey was viewed as one of a few senior level women, alongside Bozoma Saint John, Uber’s Chief Brand Officer, Frances Frei, the SVP of Leadership & Strategy, and Rachel Holt, Uber regional general manager of the U.S. and Canada, who could set a new course for the company.

Hornsey resignation makes Holt, now Uber’s head of New Modalities, the only one still actively involved in the company on a day-to-day basis from that list: Saint John left in June to become CMO of entertainment company Endeavor; Frei stepped down from her role in February, though she still serves as an advisor.

Her departure comes as CEO Dara Khosrowshahi scrambles to change a corporate culture many have described as toxic. Uber has grappled with a string of scandals, including widespread allegations of gender and sexual harassment that led to co-founder Travis Kalanick’s resignation as CEO in June 2017.

Pranesh Anthapur, Uber’s vice president of human resources, will replace Hornsey on an Interim head of HR.

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