Uber CEO Gives Advice on Having Sex with Coworkers

Travis Kalanick wrote a memo to employees that included the “do’s and don’ts” of having sex with colleagues at company gatherings.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick / REUTERS

The sexist workplace culture at Uber Technologies Inc. starts from the top down, according to a recently leaked internal email.

In 2013, after the ride-hailing company rolled out its 50th global city, it was time to celebrate at the Shore Club in Miami, Fla. But before the festivities, CEO Travis Kalanick decided to establish employee sex rules for the celebration.

In the email obtained by Recode last week, Kalanick sent a memo to the then 400 employees at the company with the subject line: “URGENT, URGENT – READ THIS NOW OR ELSE!!!!!”

In his list of “Don’ts,” Kalanick included fornication guidelines:

“Do not have sex with another employee UNLESS a) you have asked that person for that privilege and they have responded with an emphatic ‘YES! I will have sex with you’ AND b) the two (or more) of you do not work in the same chain of command. Yes, that means that Travis will be celibate on this trip. #CEOLife #FML.”

FML is slang for “F**k my life.”

He also advised that there would be a $200 “puke charge” and offered “don’ts” about practices like drug use. And, he told employees not to talk to the press.

“Have a great f**king time. This is a celebration! We’ve all earned it,” he wrote.

Some executives thought Kalanick’s tone was too careless, and he was advised not to send the email.

“Some worried that building a global public company required a more mature tone from the CEO,” according to Recode.

“But sources said Kalanick was proud of his letter to the team and spoke about it often.”

With Kalanick at the helm, inappropriate behavior by management has led to volatile working conditions.

In February, former engineer Susan Fowler claimed that her manager sexually harassed her when she worked at the company.

Fowler revealed in a blog post that when she reported the offense to human resources officials and management, they declined to punish the alleged offender because he “was a high performer” and this was his “first offense.”

She also said that after speaking with other female employees, she realized that both HR and management had been lying about this being the manager’s “first offense.”

As a result of Fowler’s public complaints, the company began a wide-range investigation into sexism and sexual harassment.

Ed Baker, the vice president of product and growth, resigned in March after more than three years at the company.

In an email to employees explaining his resignation Baker said, “I have always wanted to apply my experience in technology and growth to the public sector. And now seems like the right moment to get involved.”

However, Baker was seen at the Miami event “making out” with an employee, which was witnessed by other employees, according to sources that informed board member Ariana Huffington. Last year, Huffington was the first woman to join Uber’s board since it was founded in 2009. For seven years, the company did not have a woman on its board.

In regard to Baker’s behavior, “there was no suggestion of any sexual harassment on his part and the encounter was apparently consensual,” according to CNBC.

He perhaps felt comfortable in his actions as they were in accordance with the guidelines in the “Miami memo.” Recode reports that Kalanick actually sent the memo again “the next year when there were 1,800 employees at Uber.”

Last week, Uber announced it had fired more than 20 employees following a report by law firm Perkins Coie.

Related Story

Uber Fires More Than 20 Workers After Sexual Harassment Investigation

Uber Fires More Than 20 Workers After Sexual Harassment Investigation

Lack of diversity was always at the core of Uber’s problems.

Perkins Coie investigated 215 staff complaints, the majority from employees at its headquarters in San Francisco, going back as far as 2012, Uber said, taking action in 58 cases and no action on 100 more.

According to Reuters, Uber said that of the claims, 54 were related to discrimination, 47 to sexual harassment, 45 to unprofessional behavior, 33 to bullying and 36 to other things. The law firm has been working in parallel with a broader investigation by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

At a meeting Sunday, Uber’s board of directors voted unanimously to adopt all recommendations from Holder following the sprawling, multi-month investigation into the company’s cultures and practices.

The recommendations will be released to Uber employees on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

In addition, The New York Times reports that Uber directors were also weighing a three-month leave of absence for Kalanick, according to three people with information on the board’s agenda.

Read Kalanick’s email published by Recode.

Read more news @ DiversityInc.com

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13 comments

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  • High-school locker room language and behavior in adults is not a good look. Guess Uber is finding that out the hard way.

    Reply
  • Its impossible to be respected as a “leader” with a mindset, and behavior like this! Another classless act in need of business etiquette training!

    Reply
  • With a moron like Kalanick as CEO, no wonder there’s sexual harassment. As a lawyer, that memo is ill-advised. No employees, whether in different departments or not, should be having sex with consent or not!

    A better memo would have read: Men, don’t stick your pen in company ink. Women, don’t get your honey where you earn your money!

    The slave master plantation for white men is still in full force and effect. You will always have a female willing to prostitute herself for special favors, especially from anyone (male or female) in a position of authority.

    Reply
    • Anti-fraternization policies don’t work in the modern workplace. They just result in people hiding their relationships. However, rules do need to be in place to avoid conflicts-of-interest, such as superior-subordinate relationships.

      Reply
    • Zazi Jams:
      Who said anything about a woman prostituting herself? Men prostitute themselves for favors too, they just don’t get called on it because they’re men, that’s all. This is about a male CEO (just like at Fox News, with its stories of sexual harrassment by the female employees) allowing his male employees to treat the workplace like their own personal harem/club, which of course resulted in sexual harrassment being the norm. Glad they finally got called on it. I swear, it’s like some white men in the corporate world just want to turn back to a time when they could sexually harass women and get away with it, because they can’t deal with the fact that times have changed. And it’s also probably because some of these young white male CEOs weren’t the popular kids in high school and since their power has gone to their heads, they feel entitled to the women in their employ, like they’re prizes or something, and use their position to harass as many women as they want. It’s disgusting.

      Reply
      • Where could they have gotten that idea?

        Trump: Yeah, that’s her. With the gold. I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.

        Bush: Whatever you want.

        Trump: Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.

        Reply
  • Keeping it real, as today’s (yesterday’s) youngsters might say? I often appreciate a management that speaks clearly and plainly, without euphemisms, corporate-speak buzzwords, faked enthusiasm and forced Polly Anna-ish positivity.

    Reply
    • reibson:
      Uh,no—the problem is, these young male CEOs think they can treat the workplace like their personal harem. The workplace is not supposed to be where one relives one’s high school days, or fantasies from high school. This has nothing to do with plain talk and more about acting like adults in the workplace,period.

      Reply
      • Uh, yes. One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor, and, as I stated, I do appreciate plain, clear, direct language, whether you approve or not.

        Reply
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