To put it mildly, Uber is the midst of an identity crisis right now. To name a few of its problems, CEO Travis Kalanick recently resigned, 20 workers were fired earlier this month amid sexual harassment allegations, and the Equal Rights Center is suing Uber for denying equal access to its services for people with disabilities.
In order to successfully rebound from these (and other) missteps and regain public confidence Uber should hire a women CEO. Here’s why:
- Having a woman as the top executive will disallow the macho company culture to survive. It will send a message loud and clear that women are valued both as employees and as customers. Clearly, part of Travis Kalanick’s downfall can be attributed to the toxic bro culture his leadership enabled and encouraged. A woman CEO can stop that in its tracks and institute a fair and inclusive company culture.
- A woman CEO will demonstrate the company’s commitment to diversity. In March, Uber released data that showed that women make up 36.1 percent of the company’s global workforce and 32.9 percent of its employees in the United States and Canada, but they hold just 15.4 percent of technical positions. Putting a woman at the helm will shine a light on this issue and demonstrate that instead of hiding it, the company is committed to fixing its diversity problem.
- Women are transformational leaders. This style of leading creates trust, inspires motivation, amplifies the individual strengths of team members, and encourages broad and diverse perspectives from team members. This is exactly what Uber needs right now.
- The company needs to do something bold and different. The status quo is not working nor will it help Uber right its ship. A new (female) face and a new perspective will rejuvenate the company, shore up customer loyalty and help divert some of the negative press coverage that has besieged the company for the past few months.
Uber needs a good story to tell; hiring a highly qualified woman CEO is a good place to start.
Dr. Bernice Ledbetter is Practitioner Faculty of Organizational Theory and Management at Pepperdine Graziadio School of Business and Management where she chairs the M.S. in Management and Leadership degree program. Her research and teaching interests focus on values-based leadership, peace leadership, and gender. Dr. Ledbetter founded the Pepperdine Center for Women in Leadership to empower and advance women in the workplace.