Uber board member resigns after sexist remark at meeting addressing sexism
Venture capitalist David Bonderman resigned from Uber’s board of directors on Tuesday, after apologizing for making a sexist remark during an all-staff meeting earlier in the day about reforming the company’s culture.
The resignation comes at a critical time for the nearly $70bn ride-hail company. On Tuesday, CEO Travis Kalanick announced that he would take an indefinite leave of absence and the company released the results of an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and a toxic work environment.
During the meeting presenting the report to Uber employees on Tuesday, Bonderman interrupted his fellow board member Arianna Huffington with a sexist remark, according to an audio recording of the meeting obtained by Yahoo Finance.
Huffington said that data showed that once a company had one woman on its board, it was more likely to have a second.
Then Bonderman interjected: “Actually, what it shows is that it’s much more likely to be more talking.” He subsequently sent an email to the staff apologizing for his “disrespectful comment”.
In a statement released on Tuesday evening, Bonderman called his comment “careless, inappropriate, and inexcusable” and said he understood “the destructive effect it had”.
“I do not want my comments to create distraction as Uber works to build a culture of which we can be proud,” he added. “I need to hold myself to the same standards that we’re asking Uber to adopt. Therefore, I have decided to resign from Uber’s board of directors, effective tomorrow morning.”
Bonderman’s comment came as Uber has tried to reform a corporate culture that has become an exemplar of boorish Silicon Valley behavior and disregard for basic ethical standards.
On Sunday, the board voted unanimously to approve the recommendations contained in the report, which was prepared by the law firm of former US attorney Eric Holder. The report was commissioned after a former Uber engineer published a viral blog post containing allegations of widespread sexual harassment and gender discrimination, as well as the institutional failures to handle such matters.
“I appreciate David doing the right thing for Uber at this time of critical cultural changes at the company,” Huffington said in a statement.
Earlier this week, Uber appointed Nestlé executive Wan Ling Martello to the board. Martello is the second woman, after Huffington, to serve as an Uber director.