“I’d rather be divisive than indecisive.” Hamilton Musical
November 8, PRAGUE—I once had to get an Uber to Canadian Medical Center on the other side of Prague. The drivers were a Russian couple who spoke no English but blasted a fair amount of techno music with the windows down. Blazing through traffic and definitely speeding, I arrived at the Canadian Medical, trying to say “Spasiba” in Russian for thank you. I trust Uber drivers, they have a license and there is a form of legal security attached to the application, they represent a form of reliable transportation apart from public transportation in Prague. However, while I read a lot of what’s going on in their internal corporate offices in Silicon Valley, I thought it would be helpful to share to the local Prague users.
Along with their issues in Silicon Valley, they have recently lost a major international city in the UK due to London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan.
And, while I know what I’m about to say will perhaps not bother you at all, as it didn’t the other day when I shared some of this information at a dinner part with both Europeans and Americans, I hope you can at least take this information and at least ponder on it the next time you take an Uber.
Internationally, and I mean specifically in the UK and the Czech Republic, Uber has held the standard which the recently dismissed CEO Travis Kalanick upheld. Travis Kalanick supported the Uber’s advertisements in Prague’s metro feature a beautiful woman with the word “UbeRomantic” in Czech, advertising men to use Uber for the sake of, well, romance. According to Susan Fowler’s post “Reflecting on one very very strange year at Uber“, this is exactly the image Uber’s, now former, CEO wanted the company to be.
Another problem Uber is struggling with, is local taxis in the metropolises. Recently, in Prague, taxis held a protest against Uber drivers taking their business at the Václav Havel Airport by cutting off major highways. Taxi drivers in Prague believe that Uber drivers are stealing their customers, which is true, but no more of an Uber problem than a taxi problem, you would say. However, looking at London, they may not have such a far-out claim. When Sadiq Khan failed to pass Uber’s license in London, 40,000 jobs were lost and 3.5 million Uber users in the city now have to revert back to London’s cultural taxi scene.
Kalanick responded in a letter to the standard, that “Uber will change the license with the knowledge that we must also change,” he later said,” we won’t be perfect, but we will listen to you.” They are still trying to appeal to the mayor’s decision. But the Transport for London (TfL) has reported serious criminal offenses relating to Uber and its use of technology which allegedly helps it to evade law enforcement.
But what is really surprising is the internal network of Uber, Mr Khosrowshahi took over as CEO at Uber after Travis Kalanick had to resign following scandals and controversies.
Kalanick has promoted serious and problematic misogynistic management style and culture in Silicon Valley. Susan Fowler’s blog post states that only 2% working in Uber’s corporate office are women. “When I asked our director about what was being done on the dwindling numbers of women in the company compared to the rest of the company, his reply was, in a nutshell, that the women of Uber just needed to step up and be better engineers.” Fowler goes more into detail of the inequality found at Uber’s corporate office and the responses she got from the HR Department in her viral post. She elicits sexism in her emails and apathy found from her male coworkers from her office in Uber.
The site Mic.com has an article, “If You Care About Women, Delete Your Uber Account.” which promotes the overall idea that Uber supports gender inequality, and by using it – so do you. It’s a statement.
Whether it’s the CEO of Uber openly referring to the company as “Boober,” or inciting the company to invest money to discredit female journalists by attacking her personal and family life, Uber has major internal issues.
The Guardian has an article that says 60% of women in Silicon Valley experience harassment by the survey Elephant in the Room, and Reddit’s Ellen Peo survived one of the largest trolling attacks in history.
Now, I know not much is going to change because, in all practicalities, Uber is great, it’s a fantastic app and, in Prague, I would prefer to have a driver who I know has a record of loyalty than none at all, which is in the case with some taxi drivers in Prague. But there are alternative options, such as Liftago and Taxify which internally are not in the same predicament as Uber. Because, let’s face it internally Uber is struggling with some hard hits, but that doesn’t mean that their drivers feel the same way. So, I will let you come up with your own conclusion on the Uber debate, and if you feel like the mayor of London, or Susan Fowler, then maybe you should delete your application and make a declaration that companies should not follow in Uber’s steps. If not, at least I hope you are staying informed with the process.
Written by Brittney Pilarcik.