Uber board member Arianna Huffington said Monday that sexism isn’t a systemic problem at the company.
Huffington is on a board committee overseeing Uber’s “urgent investigation” into its workplace following a former engineer’s public allegations of widespread sexism and harassment.
During an interview on CNN’s “Quest Means Business,” Huffington said she has talked to hundreds of women at the company and that Uber’s head of human resources has held over 120 listening sessions with employees.
“Yes, there were some bad apples, unquestionably. But this is not a systemic problem,” said Huffington. “What is important is that the structures that were not in place are now being put in place to make sure that women, minorities, everyone, feels completely comfortable at Uber.”
Uber hired former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Tammy Albarran, both partners at law firm Covington & Burling, to conduct the investigation.
Huffington, who joined Uber’s board in April 2016, said the investigation will conclude the end of next month.
Uber has seen a number of high-profile exits in recent weeks, including an abrupt resignation this weekend from president Jeff Jones, who was only at the company for six months. “The beliefs and approach to leadership that have guided my career are inconsistent with what I saw and experienced at Uber,” Jones wrote in a statement.
Huffington said “everyone likes Jeff,” then turned the conversation to Uber’s search for a chief operating officer, who will serve as CEO Travis Kalanick’s new No. 2.
The company started looking for a COO after Kalanick conceded he needed help leading the company.
Huffington said that Kalanick has evolved (“I’ve spent a lot of time with Travis over the last month. I’ve seen his evolution”), calling him the “heart and soul of Uber.”
The company has suffered a series of crises this year, in addition to the sexual harassment claims.
In January, critics of the company began a #DeleteUber campaign after Uber turned off surge pricing at New York City airports. At the time, taxi drivers were protesting President Trump’s travel ban by calling for a stop to pickups at JFK, where two Iraqis were being detained. Uber’s decision effectively lowered the cost of a ride on its service.
The New York Times reported that Uber had developed a tool that it used to deliberately deceive authorities in cities that had either banned the app or were trying to restrict its use.
“Behind the headlines are thousand of talented, committed employees who believe in Uber’s mission,” Huffington said.
CNNMoney (New York) First published March 20, 2017: 6:48 PM ET