Black Lawmakers Urge Uber to Diversify Its Executive Leadership

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Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond (D-La.) and fellow members asked Uber to consider Black candidates for its leadership positions. (Image courtesy of The Times-Picayune archive).

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus are calling on Uber to hire more nonwhite executives, especially as the multibillion-dollar ride-hailing company struggles to fill a number of vacant leadership positions.

In light of recent turmoil at the California-based company, including the sudden departure of chief executive Travis Kalanick earlier this week, Black lawmakers see this as the perfect opportunity for Uber to diversify its largely white workforce. Caucus members sent a letter to company chairman and co-founder Garrett Camp on Monday, June 26, asking him to lay out steps he plans to take to ensure Uber is considering Black job candidates, tech website Recode.net reported.

“Recent reports suggest that Uber has vacancies for several of its most senior positions, including Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Marketing Officer and General Counsel that would benefit from African-American leadership,” lawmakers wrote in the letter, which also noted the company’s lack of Black members on its Board of Directors.

“These transitions present Uber with the opportunity to improve the culture of the company by diversifying its Board,” they continued.

This isn’t first time the CBC has taken aim at the tech company, however. In a letter to then-president Kalanick last year, legislators addressed reported instances of race-based discrimination against Black Uber riders.

The CBC also made efforts to promote inclusion and diversity at the tech company and others like it by launching a campaign called TECH 2020 aimed at mitigating the under-representation of nonwhite professionals in Silicon Valley. A diversity report released by Uber earlier this year showed that 50 percent of its tech-focused workforce is still white while just 9 percent of its employees are African-American.

This year, however, the ride-sharing company managed to hire two women — Francis Frei, new senior vice president of leadership and culture, and Bozoma Saint John, the new chief brand officer — for leadership positions, according to Recode.net. The company’s general workforce is about 36 percent female, faring slightly better than fellow tech giants Apple and Facebook, which sit at 32 percent.

“Among the tech industry, Uber isn’t alone in its need to improve hiring, retention, promotion and inclusion of African-Americans,” CBC members wrote. “However, as a company that seeks to ‘create possibilities for riders, drivers and cities,’ we encourage you to use this moment to emerge as a leader on diversity and inclusion and set a standard that your peers should emulate.”

When asked about the CBC’s letter, an Uber spokesperson told Fortune that the company is “committed to making Uber a more diverse and inclusive workplace at all levels of the organization, and we’ll continue to engage with community leaders like the CBC as we work to achieve this important goal.”

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