At an all-hands meeting for Uber employees on Tuesday, Uber board member Arianna Huffington announced that the board’s ratio of women had increased from 14% to 25% with the addition of Nestlé executive Wan Ling Martello. “There’s a lot of data that shows when there’s one woman on the board, it’s much more likely that there will be a second woman on the board,” she said, at which point her fellow board member, David Bonderman, interrupted her with a sexist joke.
“Actually what it shows is it’s much more likely to be more talking,” he said.
In audio leaked to Yahoo Finance, you can hear Huffington laughing the comment off, a reaction that will be easily recognized by women who are pressured to be agreeable, even in the face of overt sexism, in order to be successful. “Oh come on, David,” she says to the billionaire founding partner of TPG Capital.
The incident was ironic, to a nearly unbelievable degree, because the purpose of the meeting was to discuss recommendations for fixing Uber’s culture following an internal investigation of harassment, discrimination and inappropriate behavior that resulted in the firing of 20 people. With his casual sexist comment, Bonderman, who later issued an apology, provided an example of just how difficult that project might be.
Update: David Bonderman is resigning from Uber’s board, according to a New York Times report citing two people with knowledge of the matter.