Eric Holder is the disappointed dad Uber desperately needs

“I’m not angry, just disappointed.”
“I’m not angry, just disappointed.”
Image: Reuters/Mike Segar
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Drink less may as well be the words in the report.

“With respect to alcohol consumption at after-hours work events and at other work-sponsored events, Uber should consider limiting the budget available to managers for alcohol purchases, restrict reimbursements for alcohol-related events, and include training for managers on appropriate events for retreats and out-of-work events,” reads a section of the workplace recommendations made to Uber by former US attorney general Eric Holder, and made public today. It continues:

Uber should also encourage responsible drinking, which can include limiting the amount of alcohol that is available in the office, de-emphasizing alcohol as a component of work events, and otherwise taking appropriate action to discipline and address inappropriate employee conduct fueled by alcohol consumption. Uber should support work events in which alcohol is not a strong component to ensure that employees who do not partake in consumption of alcohol still have opportunities to engage in networking and team building activities.

If this sounds like a parent scolding a child—yes. Holder is the dad, and Uber is the teenager.

On relationships:

Uber should develop specific and clear guidance concerning appropriate workplace relationships, including making clear that any type of romantic or intimate relationship between individuals in a reporting relationship (either direct or indirect) is prohibited. If employees in a reporting relationship find themselves in a romantic or intimate relationship, they must be required to immediately report it so that appropriate action can be taken, including making sure that the individuals are not in any type of reporting relationship (direct or indirect) going forward.

On company values:

…reduce the overall number of values, and eliminate those values which have been identified as redundant or as having been used to justify poor behavior, including Let Builders Build, Always Be Hustlin’, Meritocracy and Toe-Stepping, and Principled Confrontation; and encourage senior leaders to exhibit the values on a daily basis and to model a more collaborative and inclusive Uber culture.

On dinner, which Uber provides to employees at its San Francisco office at 8:15pm:

Uber should consider moving the catered dinner it offers to a time when this benefit can be utilized by a broader group of employees, including employees who have spouses or families waiting for them at home, and that signals an earlier end to the work day.

Uber released the 13-page Holder report today, two days after the company’s board voted unanimously to adopt all recommendations contained in it. The world’s most valuable startup hired Holder and his law firm, Covington & Burling, to investigate its corporate culture in late February after a former engineer’s blog post about being sexually harassed during her time at Uber went viral. Since then, there have been more accusations of sexual harassment, as well as reports of Uber evading law enforcement and top executives partying at an escort-karaoke bar in Seoul. Along with releasing the results of Holder’s report, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick announced today that he is taking a leave of absence from the company.

There are plenty of weightier recommendations contained in the report. Holder suggests Uber establish “key metrics” to hold its senior leaders accountable, and enhance the independence of its board. He instructs the company to invest in complaint tracking software to better track complaints and agreements with employees, and calls for “mandatory leadership training” for senior leaders. Other recommendations are shocking in their simplicity, and revealing that Uber needed to be told to do these things in the first place: “train human resources personnel on the effective handling of complaints;” “devote adequate staff and resources to human resources;” have managers “meet one-on-one with their direct reports on a regular and frequent basis.”

With a global footprint and nearly $70 billion valuation, Uber has the clout of a mature corporation. But its culture, leadership, and policies are best described as juvenile. What the company needed more than anything was a good scolding. Holder’s report delivered.