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Uber silent on CEOs future as it adopts Holder proposals

Taxi app service tight-lipped on Travis Kalanic leave of absence as it responds to accusations of culture of harassment

Ubers board of directors has adopted a series of recommendations about the companys corporate culture from former US attorney general Eric Holder, but it was silent late on Sunday on whether it would approve a leave of absence for the taxi-hailing app services embattled CEO.

A spokesman confirmed that the board met Holder and Tammy Albarrn, both partners with Covington & Burling LLP, a law firm hired to investigate complaints of widespread sexual harassment and other deep-seeded cultural problems at Uber.

Board members voted unanimously to adopt all of the firms recommendations, which were to be released to employees on Tuesday, the spokesman said.

He would not comment on any further actions taken by the board, including whether it discussed the future of the CEO, Travis Kalanick. Multiple media outlets reported on Sunday that the board was considering a leave of absence for Kalanick.

Uber has been rocked by accusations that its management has fostered a workplace environment where harassment, discrimination and bullying are left unchecked.

Uber announced last week that it fired 20 employees for harassment problems after a separate investigation by a different law firm.

Under Kalanick, Uber has shaken up the taxi industry in hundreds of cities and turned the San Francisco-based company into the worlds most valuable startup. Ubers valuation has climbed to nearly $70bn (55bn).

However, Kalanick has acknowledged his management style needs improvement. The 40-year-old CEO said earlier this year he needed to fundamentally change and grow up.

In February, former Uber engineer Susan Fowler wrote on a blog that she had been propositioned by her boss in a series of messages on her first day of work and that superiors ignored her complaints. Uber set up a hotline for complaints after that and hired the law firm of Perkins Coie to investigate.

That firm checked into 215 complaints, with 57 still under investigation.

Uber has been plagued by more than sexual harassment complaints in recent months. It has been threatened by boycotts, sued and subject to a federal investigation that it used a fake version of its app to thwart authorities looking into whether it was breaking local laws.

Kalanick lost his temper earlier this year in an argument with an Uber driver who was complaining about pay, with Kalanicks profanity-laced comments caught on video.

Travis Kalanick argues with his Uber driver

In a March conference call with reporters following that incident, board member Arianna Huffington expressed confidence that Kalanick would evolve into a better leader. But Huffington, a founder of Huffington Post, suggested time might be running out.

Hes a scrappy entrepreneur, she said during the call, but one who needed to bring changes in himself and in the way he leads.

The board meeting follows a personal tragedy for Kalanick. His mother was killed in late May after the boat she and her husband were riding in hit a rock. Kalanicks father suffered moderate injuries.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that the chief business officer, Emil Michael, was planning to resign as soon as Monday.

The company has faced high turnover in its top ranks. In March, Ubers president, Jeff Jones, resigned after less than a year on the job. He said his beliefs and approach to leadership were inconsistent with those of the company.

In addition to firing 20 employees, Uber said on Tuesday it was hiring an Apple marketing executive, Bozoma Saint John, to help improve its tarnished brand. Saint John was most recently head of global consumer marketing for Apple Music and iTunes.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jun/12/uber-silent-travis-kalanick-future-adopts-holder-proposals

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