By Manasi Nene
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably familiar with the mess that calls itself Uber. There is rampant sexism in the company, but nobody paid attention until this letter went viral. And even then, people paid attention only when 200,000 customers quit Uber. Then they somehow procured medical records of a woman who accused an Uber driver of rape, because the higher management didn’t believe her. A board member has resigned as well, after he was being sexist at a meeting about sexism. The leak of Uber’s party manual doesn’t help its case much, either.
Is there anything left, still, in this story? Yes, apparently.
Ex-CEO Travis Kalanick, who was previously on a temporary leave of absence after former US Attorney General Eric Holder investigated Uber’s ethics and leadership, has now resigned permanently. According to the New York Times, five major investors demanded his resignation. Now, Uber is left without a CEO, a COO, a CFO, a CMO, and many other important positions. Kind of ironic, considering Uber’s once meteoric rise to power.
— ಠ_ಠ (@MikeIsaac) June 21, 2017
Let’s not forget, though, that Kalanick’s resignation isn’t the big feminist be-all, end-all we’ve been looking for. Even in India, it’s only too common that men get credit for doing not-that-much-work, because we can barely imagine structural changes that might actually benefit women.
The problem isn’t Kalanick himself, although he hasn’t done much to help. These are small steps towards making sure women won’t be harassed in the workplace, that people being sexist (or racist, or classist, or caste-ist, or discriminatory in any other way) are called out, to make sure these incidents don’t happen again.
Sure, it’s been a rough month for Kalanick, but it’s been a rough month for a lot of Uber employees and customers as well. It’s been a rough month for the women harassed by Bill Cosby. It’s been a rough month for women from Punjab to Chennai, who are just trying to deal with a world that doesn’t really respect women. This doesn’t mean we must laud Kalanick for leaving his company — the only way he’d resign was when “a block of the biggest shareholders demanded he step down”, according to Mike Isaac of the New York Times.
Instead, we can only hope that this serves as a wake-up call to others, making it clear that institutional sexism cannot be swept under the carpet, anymore.