Uber published a report on how their tech staff is 85 percent male and, generally, they hire few non-white/non-Asians within the U.S. (see, e.g., New York Times). The founder/CEO (a.k.a. “rich white guy”) says that the company has “a commitment to change.” Part of the Times coverage is based on a female site reliability engineer (new name for “syadmin”?) who wrote about her boss “looking for women to have sex with”.
[One angle I am pretty sure that the New York Times did not cover: Given the typical disparity (inequality?) in pay of a Silicon Valley startup company, in which the earlier arrivals receive stock grants or options worth 10X or 100X what later-hired folks doing the same job get, and given the California child support formula, a woman could get lot more cash for having sex with a senior/early Uber employee than by working as a junior/late-hired Uber employee.]
The message of the study and the article seems to be that Uber has done something regrettable by building a non-diverse workforce. However, given that the company is one of the most successful business enterprises ever created (see, e.g. Business Insider and this article on how Uber grew faster than Facebook), could these data be interpreted in another way? If we assume that diversity of workforce had any effect on company success, why isn’t it just as plausible that the lack of diversity was somehow helpful? One argument for diversity in tech and in management is that it impossible for white/Asian guys to understand diverse customers. Uber would seem to disprove that theory. The drivers come from all over the world and are based all over the world. The customers are similarly about as diverse as any customer base could be (essentially anyone who wants to get from Point A to Point B, has a phone, and can afford $5). Why isn’t Uber the ultimate demonstration that the market brings together people from different backgrounds? (i.e., you might not ever go to a mosque, but you’ll take a ride from a Muslim driver if he or she is the closest to you; you might not have any white/male American friends but you’ll use a service run by white/male Americans)
[Not to beat a dead horse too much, but given that the New York Times argues separately that gender is fluid and unmoored to genetics, why do they report as credible Uber’s categorization of employees into “men” and “women”? How would Uber know what the gender identification of their workers is going to be tomorrow morning, for example?]
Readers: What do you think? Does publicizing the fact that one of the world’s most rapidly successful companies is mostly white/Asian guys make other employers say “Whoa. Let’s try not to end up like those Uber founders, early-hired managers, and investors”?