Some of the recommendations make it clear just how far outside the norm Uber was operating. For example they call for Uber to appoint an audit committee that can enforce compliance with internal controls and for the company to implement HR record keeping, (apparently a new concept for Uber). There’s a recommendation that Uber find a way to track agreements with employees, another element of corporate governance practice that Uber was apparently missing.
One critical recommendation is that Uber’s 14 Cultural Values be reformulated to “eliminate those values which have been identified as redundant or as having been used to justify poor behavior, including Let Builders Build, Always Be Hustlin’, Meritocracy and Toe-Stepping, and Principled Confrontation." Uber's senior leaders should be encouraged to exhibit the reformed values "on a daily basis and to model a more collaborative and inclusive Uber culture.”
One key change is mandatory leadership training for key senior management, as well as mandatory HR training and manager training. This regimen should include mandatory interview training to eliminate bias.
Holder recommended that Uber adopt a version of the NFL’s “Rooney Rule” that requires job postings be distributed company-wide and that interviews for each position must include at least one racial minority and one woman or other under-represented minority group.
One very telling set of recommendations would require compliance with federal equal opportunity rules. Other recommendations would prohibit intimate or romantic relationships among people in the same reporting chain and prohibit the use of alcohol and non-prescription drugs in the workplace. The recommendations wrap up with a call for review and revision of the company’s pay policies that appear aimed at paying women and minorities less than others.
The recommendations are in reality a good set of guidelines for companies in general, especially those in Silicon Valley and other tech corridors. While some are aimed directly at Kalanick and his senior managers, most could be adopted by nearly any company.
It is, however, sad that Uber had to be told all of this, or that this set of recommendations would be useful throughout the tech industry. But the reality is that much of the tech industry will forgive nearly anything in the name of producing good results.
The problem lies with the fact that eventually start-ups must learn how to do more than just grow rapidly. Sometimes that doesn't happen until a start-up is acquired by a larger company where corporate governance already exists and the start-up staff is exposed to the reality of operating the company inside a larger corporate framework.
But for start-up companies that plan to stay independent the time must come when management and staff have to deal with the reality of operating and growing within generally-accepted rules of conduct and governance.
That’s when the corporate leadership needs to act like grown-ups even if it means replacing the original leaders.