“Stack ranking” employee ratings allegedly disadvantage women

A former Uber engineer sued the company, alleging that its “stack ranking” system of evaluating employees had an unfair and disproportionate impact on women.

Bloomberg reported on research about stack ranking:

Academic researchers have found that performance rating systems like stack rankings play to managers’ unconscious — and conscious — biases. Reviewing a decade of performance reviews at a “large professional services firm,” Paola Cecchi-Dimeglio, a senior research fellow at Harvard Law School, found that women were 1.4 times more likely than men to receive critical feedback in highly subjective categories.

For example, in one pair of reviews a female employee was described as having “analysis paralysis.” A man with the same behavior was praised for his careful thoughtfulness. “There is a lot of bias in the system, more than in the people,” Cecchi-Dimeglio said.

Microsoft faced similar litigation in 2015, and Goldman Sachs in 2010. Both those companies ended the practice, as did Uber before the filing of this lawsuit.

Litigation docket including complaint.

Female driver in UK claimed gender discrimination due to insufficient security

A female driver in the UK claimed gender discrimination in that Uber purportedly failed to provide sufficient security to female drivers. She complained that she had to accept a passenger’s request without knowing the destination in advance, and had no option to cancel requests to remote or unsafe destinations. She also complained that Uber would penalize her if she canceled a trip for an aggressive passenger or a passenger raising other safety concerns.

Promotion perpetuated gender stereotypes

In India, an UberEats promotion offered a discount on food delivery, suggesting that a customer “let your wife take a day off from the kitchen” and thus presuming that all cooking is done by women and not men. Readers criticized Uber’s promotion as perpetuating gender stereotypes.

Uber Board Member Arianna Huffington said sexual harassment not a “systemic problem”; Eric Holder report disagreed

In March 2017 remarks, in response to a widely-circulated blog by former Uber employe Susan Fowler about sexual harassment and the company’s refusal to respond to complaints of sexual harassment, Uber Board Member Arianna Huffington denied that sexual harassment at Uber was a “systemic problem”:

Yes, there were some bad apples, unquestionably. But this is not a systemic problem

In sharp contrast, when former Attorney General Eric Holder and colleagues examined misconduct at Uber, their report found 215 complaints of inappropriate workplace conduct, yielding at least 20 firings, 31 retrainings, and 7 final warnings.

Driver pondered opportunities to take advantage of a drunk female passenger

A San Jose passenger recorded an Uber driver’s remarks while driving:

My dream is to have some drunk chick by herself also going home at the end of my shift and she wants me to come in. That would be the perfect ending to my day. … Half the work is already done, man. She’s isolated and she’s drunk. … I will get really drunk too and then I can’t be held responsible.

Uber indicated that it banned the driver from further rides for Uber.