Jesse Jackson Tells Uber to Release Diversity Data, Invest in Oakland

Jackson's latest request comes at the same time Uber announces a former Hillary Clinton staffer, who is African American, will lead its diversity efforts.


In a letter to Uber's CEO Travis Kalanick, civil rights leader Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr., president and founder of The Rainbow PUSH Coalition, urged Uber to report its diversity data by February 15. Unlike many big-name tech companies, Uber has not released data on the racial and gender makeup of its workforce.

Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr.

"We urge Uber to 'lean in' and join the ranks of technology companies that are reporting diversity and inclusion data," the January 5 letter states.

Jackson advises Uber to:

  • Publicly disclose its EEO-1 report and the racial and gender composition of technical and non-technical workforce.
  • Detail the total number of new hires made between 2014 and 2016, and the number and percentage of these new hires from African American and Latino backgrounds.
  • Report the gender and racial composition of its board of directors and C-suite leadership team.
  • Describe new diversity and inclusion policies and practices, partnerships and initiatives that the company is implementing.
  • Describe any additional policies the company adapted to increase diversity and inclusion in the utilization of its products, as well as work with minority and diverse advertising, marketing and professional services firms.

Additionally, Jackson requests that "if and when Uber takes the company public" it takes proactive steps to involve diverse financial services firms and ensure participation in its IPO syndicate.

Uber, founded in 2009 in San Francisco, is valued at $69 billion. Currently, its board members and advisors are mostly male, except for Black men — there are none.

Bernard C. Coleman III / Twitter

The company released a statement on Thursday announcing Bernard C. Coleman III has been tapped for the position of global chief of diversity and inclusion.

Coleman, who is Black, was the chief diversity and human resources officer for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. He was the first-ever chief diversity officer for any presidential campaign of either political party.

Coleman earned a bachelor's degree from Hampton University, one of the country's Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and an MBA from Trinity University.

Uber's Chief Human Resources Officer Liane Hornsey said Coleman would be working to "build the right programs and teams that make Uber a great place to work."

Hire and Invest in Oakland Program 

Uber will soon be moving its headquarters to Oakland, California. Jackson said the company has the opportunity to empower the residents of the city. He also warned Uber should not be disruptive and accelerate displacement and gentrification.

He recommends a "Hire and Invest in Oakland Program," which will commit to transforming "leadership, workforce, vendor base to mirror the Oakland/East Bay community; a program that commits to working with city officials and community leaders to make deep and sustainable investments in the Oakland Unified School District and other educational institutions, and in the dynamic community, housing, youth and tech-related organizations based in Oakland/East Bay."

Jackson referred to Oakland as the "rainbow" city of the West Coast as it consists of an African American, Latino, Asian and white population.

"It's even more important that Uber build a company that reflects the multi-racial, multi-cultural character of Oakland and the East Bay community, and its tradition of advocating for racial equality and economic justice," Jackson said.

Data by the Deadline

If Rainbow PUSH receives Uber's data by February 15, it will be included in the PUSHTech2020 report on race equality, diversity and inclusion in the tech industry, to be issued later this year.

In 2014, Rainbow PUSH appealed to over 25 technology companies, such as Google, to demonstrate a new level of transparency and publicly release their EEO-1 reports and workforce diversity data. Iconic Silicon Valley companies previously went to court to prevent the release of their data.

With urging, company after company began to unveil their diversity data. The data revealed that Blacks and Latinos were just 1 to 3 percent of their tech and non-tech workforces, and also the virtual exclusion of Blacks and Latinos from the boardrooms, C-suites and workforce of technology companies.

Since then, the tech companies "have pledged to take concrete remedial action to right the wrongs of past practices and policies, to work to change the face of technology so that its leadership, workforce and business partnerships mirror the world in which we live," Jackson said.

 As companies aren't required to release racial and gender statistics on employees, Uber isn't under any obligation to supply Jackson with its diversity data.

The company has denied previous requests from Jackson.

"We do not release statistics on the racial makeup of our employees," a spokeswoman told the Boston Globe in May. She added that Uber is "committed to recruiting, hiring, and sustaining a diverse employee population."

Uber has never participated in the DiversityInc Top 50 competition, which is free and independent of business conducted with DiversityInc.

 Jackson was the keynote speaker at the 2015 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity announcement dinner.

"We bought stock in each of the major companies in Silicon Valley, just enough to get on the floor and make our protest," he told industry leaders in attendance.

"All of them had about zero people [of color] on the board. We went to the shareholders meeting to make the case that we ought to change the direction of growth."

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