Change afoot at Uber? I think not!

In Uber’s continuing attempt to repair its reputation over a series of scandals stemming from its bad-boy culture, its co-founder Travis Kalanick said he would take a leave of absence as chief executive. The company also announced it would embark on a sweeping reorganization to ensure that executives are more closely supervised by its board of directors. — New York Times, 6/14/2017

A long time coming.  And a foreseeable pivot for one of the thousands of Silicon Valley-type ventures that are touted as a new form of commerce, disruptive innovation, or any of a dozen descriptions of present-day businesses, but guess what – business is business, and one can’t run  roughshod over any of its stakeholders – customers, employees, shareholders, board members, even members of regulatory and oversight bodies!

It’s a common routine.  Enfants terrible such as Kalanick, or American Apparel’s Charney get wheelbarrows of money, plenty of publicity, and finally, their comeuppance when grownups enter the room.  Kavalnick had a longer run than most, perhaps because Uber’s expansion was so rapid.  It’s hard to hit a moving target.  Zuckerberg is protected by Sandberg, but her personal work may be too much for the adults in the end.

Why not just do it right from the beginning?  The Holder report to Uber’s management resembles a kitchen sink of controls that one would expect a company that is big enough to be on the Fortune 500 list (if it were, and when it does, go public), but one can’t legislate ethics if employees and owners don’t know what ethics is.  That’s why I fear the thick icing of controls and additional personnel that will be ladled onto Uber will have little in the way of results.  Existing employees were not hired within a framework of ethical behavior, and a healthy workplace environment.  It’s not going to work anytime soon…

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