Should Feminists Avoid These 4 Companies?
Have you heard the Uber news? No – not the taxis, or the driverless cars news. The misogyny news.
Recent allegations from Susan Fowler, a former site reliability engineer at the company, assert that both the Uber management and HR department subjected her and her female colleagues to appalling sexual discrimination. Her accusations have not gone unnoticed; as of late February, her original post has almost 5000 likes and quotes from the articles have been disseminated through the national press.
Fowler’s story highlights one important issue in large businesses: the dangers of a faceless, unsympathetic HR department that doesn’t take sexual harassment seriously. Stories surface again and again of women dismissed for calling men out on their actions, or women offered jobs only on condition of sex, or women patronised into believing their skillset expendable.
We took a look at some recent controversies from some of the biggest companies on the planet.
First things first: the recent Uber controversy. On February 19th, a tell-all post was uploaded to Susan Fowler’s blog, in which the tech worker detailed all the sexism she encountered in her 13-month stint at the company. The internet duly imploded and the story was covered in all the major news outlets, prompting Uber chief Travis Kalanick to institute an extensive internal investigation.
Fowler’s account of her time at Uber is comprehensive. Highlights include being threatened with a poor performance review by a serial company sex pest in exchange for reporting him, being berated for keeping email records and having one HR manager tell her that “certain genders and ethnic backgrounds were better suited for some jobs than others”. She finally left the company when a manager threatened to illegally fire her for ‘causing problems’.
Through all these incidents, Fowler jumped through all the right hoops, reporting issues to HR and compiling evidence in written form. Unfortunately, HR was part of the problem. Nor was Fowler the only woman to leave the company in that period.
“On my last day at Uber,” she writes, “I calculated the percentage of women who were still in the org. Out of over 150 engineers in the SRE teams, only 3% were women.” The press that Fowler’s post has garnered should ensure that Uber fixes this, fast.
Magic Leap is one of America’s biggest ‘unicorns’. Valued at over $5 billion, the augmented reality company claims to be developing revolutionary VR technology about which little is currently known. However, recent comments from Tannen Campbell, a former employee, have not only threatened to shatter the company’s air of mystery but have denounced it as a ‘hostile workplace for women’.
Brought on in 2015 to fix the ‘pink-blue problem’ – that is, the mostly male workforce’s inability to appeal to a female demographic – Campbell found that her ideas were consistently dismissed and fellow female colleagues patronised by the men of the company. Incidents included an IT officer who claimed that his department avoided “the three Os – Orientals, old people, and ovaries.”
Eventually, after attempting to challenge CEO Rory Abovitz on his attitude, Campbell was fired. A lawsuit investigating the affair reads: “Due in large part to its gender imbalance and the misogynistic attitudes and behavior of its male employees, including executive management, Magic Leap’s corporate culture is one of macho bullying, where women’s work and ideas, including those of Campbell, are ridiculed openly and their opinions are ignored in favor of those of those of their male counterparts.”
The deficiency is, the suit says, to Magic Leap’s own detriment. “Sadly, because Magic Leap seldom hires and does not actively recruit female candidates, the company loses competitive advantage to products like Microsoft’s Hololens,” it claims. “Microsoft, which employs far more females on its team, developed its similar product on a faster time line with more content that appeals to both genders.”
Dream of getting into TV journalism? Not if you’re a lady and not if it’s with Fox. When Roger Ailes, CEO of Fox News and TV Stations Group, was forced to resign last year, it was in a storm of sexual harassment allegations. From female news anchors to producers, women from across the network alleged that Ailes had propositioned them, demanded sexual favours in return for work and, in one case, had them demoted for speaking out.
You’d think the CEO’s resignation would be the end of it. But even when Ailes stepped down, he was gifted $40 million as an exit agreement.
Problems at the company are far from over; as of February 2017, federal prosecutors continue to investigate 21st Century Fox Inc. Andrea Tantaros, one of the network’s accusers, likens the company to a ‘sex-fueled cult’. Exciting as that sounds, we think it’s probably a bad thing.
Though it might be the poster-company of Silicon start-up mega-success, Facebook is far from the techie haven it imitates – at least, for the few females on its staff. Following the release of ‘Chaos Monkeys’, a tell-all book written by former employee Antonio Garcia Martinez, it has become clear that sexism lives in the online giant’s offices.
According to the book, female Facebook staffers are advised to wear modest clothes to avoid ‘distracting’ co-workers. Over the last year, Facebook has seen a 40% increase in staff, but only a 1% increase in female representation. And a recent article from a former Facebook Trending contractor accuses the company of favouring male employees over herself.
“I often found that when I reported a problem with the Trending tool or a discrepancy in the guidelines, my claims were dismissed,” she writes. “When a man would report the same problem, he would be congratulated for noticing the problem… I found myself speaking up less and less, until I got to a point where I no longer reported any problems or errors I encountered… ”
The result was a loss of talent over the year she worked there. “Several women, including myself, reported sexism by managers and editors to their direct supervisor and in their exit interviews to no avail,” the former employee writes. We wonder if they’ll pay attention now?
This guest post was authored by Inspiring Interns
Inspiring Interns is a graduate recruitment agency which specialises in sourcing candidates for internships and giving out graduate careers advice. To hire graduates or browse graduate jobs, visit their website.