By Bernard Coleman
It was quite a year for Uber in 2017: a year of revelation, reflection, re-evaluation and practical steps toward optimistic reinvention. In short, it was a roller coaster ride of epic proportions.
When I first arrived at Uber last January, I spent my first few months talking to anyone and everyone who wanted to chat. I was on an intense fact-finding mission to understand the culture, both the bright spots and pain points. What I found in nearly every interaction were people who cared passionately about inclusion and diversity but who were paralyzed by the fear of saying or doing the wrong thing and who, therefore, missed opportunities to speak up or express support.
Many technology companies have an important goal to do something innovative and groundbreaking with their inclusion and diversity (I&D) program. The reality is that HR cannot be innovative if we don’t have a mastery of the basics. What inclusion and diversity efforts ultimately suffer from is not being intentional, deliberate or strategically comprehensive from the outset.
I quickly realized that Uber was at an inflection point. We needed to intensify our focus on inclusion by making sure we are building an environment where everyone is welcome and that accentuates belongingness and values uniqueness.
We decided to approach inclusion and diversity in a holistic, intersectional way by focusing on four key steps:
Individual employees: We want employees to feel an increased sense of belonging and be able to both model and mirror inclusion.
Systems: We want to create systems that decrease bias and improve fairness and equitable treatment, no matter who you are or where you are from.
Leadership: We want leaders at every level to understand why inclusion and diversity matters and amplify the message throughout the company so that it becomes fully embedded in our DNA.
Citizenship: We want to do meaningful work at our jobs, make a difference in society and plant seeds to positively impact others.