Uber executives signaled Tuesday that they are standing by the company’s embattled CEO, Travis Kalanick, following recent controversy surrounding the ride-hailing service, including accusations that it has a workplace culture of sexism. “It’s clear that both Uber and the whole ride-sharing industry would not be where we are today without Travis,” Arianna Huffington, a member of Uber’s board of directors, said during a call with reporters. “And I’m personally a big believer in leaders, people, companies, being allowed to evolve,” she added. Uber hired former Attorney General Eric Holder last month to lead an investigation into the company’s workplace after a former female engineer revealed in a widely read blog post that she had witnessed rampant sexism during her time at Uber. But the company has faced continued challenges, with Kalanick last month apologizing after he was shown on tape arguing with an Uber driver over whether the company’s prices were falling. On Sunday, Uber President Jeff Jones also resigned, saying his values were clashing with those on display at the company. Pressed about whether the company’s leadership had contemplated having Kalanick step down, Huffington said Tuesday that executives had complete confidence in him and conversations about his potential exit had not taken place. “It’s not something that’s been addressed because it hasn’t come up and we don’t expect it to come up,” she said.
Asked if Kalanick would be speaking to reporters or making any public statements to address his company’s recent troubles, Liane Hornsey, Uber’s head of human resources, responded that he was tied up with interviewing candidates for the newly created position of chief operating officer (COO). Hornsey also said that the company would be releasing its first diversity report this month. The executives insisted that women in the company were involved in the COO hiring process after multiple reporters pointed out that the call was being hosted by women while Kalanick and Uber investor Bill Gurley were interviewing candidates. Hornsey said she would be “extremely personally offended” if she and other women in the company were not involved in the process to find a COO. The executives also promised an overhaul at the company to make sure that all of its employees would be comfortable and have an opportunity for advancement. “Creating a great culture will be key to future success,” Huffington said. “Going forward there can be no room at Uber for brilliant jerks, and zero tolerance for anything but totally respectful behavior in an equitable workplace environment.”