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Uber CEO Takes Leave of Absence Amidst Management Shakeup

20 June 2017

Kalanick did not say how long he would be gone, but explained that he would leave the day-to-day running of the company to his subordinates while still taking part in strategic decisions.

In an email to employees on Tuesday obtained by BuzzFeed News, Kalanick said he needed to take time off to "become the leader that this company needs and that you deserve".

Meanwhile, a statement was included in Uber's note announcing new policies that are meant to help it fight sexual harassment and change a corporate culture that has been blamed for allowing workplace misconduct to flourish.

The first recommendation in the report, according to a 13-page summary, is titled "Changes to senior leadership".

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Uber said last week that it had hired Frances Frei, a Harvard Business School professor, to report directly to Kalanick and "work as a partner" with chief human resources officer Liane Hornsey.

Uber released all of Holder's recommendations, but not the full report in order to protect the privacy of those filing complaints.

Under Kalanick, Uber has disrupted the taxi industry in hundreds of cities - including Adelaide - and turned the San Francisco-based company into the world's most valuable startup.

Holder's team was hired to launch an internal investigation a day after Susan Fowler, a former engineer at Uber, detailed in a blog posting on February 19 allegations of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation during her employment at the company, and the ineffectiveness its policies and procedures.

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"For the last eight years my life has always been about Uber", Kalanick said in an email to employees. Fowler claimed the company refused to properly address sexual harassment that she and other women had reported. Created to curb inappropriate behavior, the changes include guidelines for romantic relationships between employees (including a ban on relationships between managers and their team members), policies on alcohol and drug use, and a clearer promotion process for high-performing workers. The report also exhorted the company to "institute and enforce clear guidelines on alcohol consumption and the use of controlled substances" and "prohibit romantic or intimate relations between individuals in a reporting relationship".

The law firm has made recommendations on how to fix Uber's dysfunctional management. A spokesperson said Uber will now offer free dinner at 7 p.m. on weekdays; the dinner time was previously 8:15 p.m. Several executives have left the company, including its president, Jeff Jones, after just six months on the job.

When Huffington spoke of bringing another woman to the board, fellow board member David Bonderman commented that this would lead to "more talking". An earlier time accommodates a "broader group of employees", Holder wrote, "including employees who have spouses or families waiting for them at home, and that signals an earlier end to the work day". Uber should ditch some of the values people were using to justify awful behavior at the company. The report also called for the appointment of a senior executive to oversee the implementation of its recommendations.

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