It appears Uber’s former CEO Travis Kalanick scared off any potential female candidates that could have replaced him.
The ride-hailing company became the target of controversy after allegations of rampant sexual harassment and discrimination surfaced along with not-so-honest business practices and dealings with law enforcement.
Following the accusations, Kalanick was forced to step down and the company, in an attempt to fight off its stigma of sexism, started looking through its binders for women executives across America.
However, it seems none of the A-list female executives are interested in taking the reins of Uber.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg was the first choice for the job but she refused the position. So did Susan Wojcicki, YouTube’s CEO. Mary Barra, the chief executive of General Motors and Carolyn McCall, CEO of easyJet, were approached as well, but negotiations didn’t work out. Then last week, Hewlett-Packard’s Chief Executive Meg Whitman posted a message on Twitter denying rumors she was considering the position.
“Normally I do not comment on rumors,” she tweeted, “but the speculation about my future and Uber has become a distraction.”
Since the company was unable to find a woman to take on the job, it has now wound it’s search down to three white men, the top priority of which goes to General Electric Chairman Jeffrey R. Immelt. The names of the other two have not been revealed.
Female techs in Silicon Valley have expressed disappointment that Uber isn’t going to have a woman on the helm after all.
“We are disappointed, of course,” said Joelle Emerson, chief executive of Paradigm, a diversity consultancy for large tech companies and Silicon Valley start-ups. “It could have communicated a commitment on the company’s part to having a more inclusive culture. Though certainly I don’t think hiring a woman would have guaranteed that.”
The female executives and consultants in Silicon Valley, who were interviewed by The Washington Post, said they did not know why each woman turned down the offer, but said there were plenty of reasons besides sexism to do so.
Some also pointed to a phenomenon known as “the glass cliff,” in which women are called into leadership roles in times of crisis and are expected to shore up a company’s badly bruised image among customers and employees — and if they fail to do so, they are criticized and blamed for the company's existing culture.
There is also the fact that even though Kalanick resigned from his position as CEO, he still remains on the board with majority shares. A New York Times piece also suggested Kalanick was sabotaging the entire recruitment process and a new CEO would obviously have to deal with Kalanick’s interference from behind the scenes.
Banner/Thumbnail: Reuters, Tyrone Siu