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Uber Internal Review: 4 Things We Learned About Its Culture

An independent investigation into Uber's workplace culture and policies is offering a glimpse of what it's like to work at the San Francisco company.
Image: Security guard at Uber headquarters
A private security guard stands in front of Uber headquarters on June 13, 2017 in San Francisco.Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

The Uber of the past eight years certainly wasn't your parents' workplace.

Former attorney general Eric Holder's recommendations into how Uber can reform its workplace were released on Tuesday and shed light on what it's like to work at a company that went from a few core team members in 2009, to the $70 billion giant it is today.

We've heard the stories of harassment, discrimination, and misconduct — and the protocols and training that need to be in place to create "Uber 2.0."

But there are also day-to-day norms that are falling under scrutiny and essentially forcing Uber to grow up.

Related: Uber Board Member Who Made Sexist Comment During All-Hands Meeting Resigns

Catered Dinners

Silicon Valley start-ups are known for their generous perks, and Uber is no exception.

While free dinners, beer and ping-pong in the office may sound preposterous to people outside of the start-up world, they're surprisingly common perks in tech community. (And of course help serve another purpose: Keeping workers in the office longer.)

Catered dinners at Uber were previously at 8:15 p.m. They're now being moved to 7 p.m. following a recommendation from the Holder report.

"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," the report said.

Alcohol in the Workplace

Walk into many San Francisco tech offices and you'll likely find a selection of beer and wine ready for consumption. Holder's report recommends Uber establish clear rules about alcohol in the workplace.

The company should "strictly prohibit the use of controlled substances, including prohibiting consumption of alcohol during core work hours," the report said.

Or as David Bonderman, who resigned from Uber's board on Tuesday after making a sexist joke, put it:

Image: Uber office in Hong Kong
The entrance to Uber's office in Hong Kong on March 10, 2017.Anthony Wallace / AFP - Getty Images

"Don't turn on the beer tap unless you turn on the food tap," he said in leaked audio of the company's all-hands meeting where the report was discussed.

In an effort to create a more inclusive workplace, Holder's report also recommends that Uber "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."

Oh, and he also suggests trimming their booze budget.

Expense Report Oversight

That now-infamous business outing to a South Korean escort bar, which reportedly prompted a female employee to complain, certainly shouldn't be happening again. (To be fair, it's unclear how the issue was resolved and whether it was on Uber's dime.)

But the anecdote shows how Holder's report wants to ensure Uber employees on business trips stick to their purpose.

"Uber should review its policies and procedures with respect to travel and expense reimbursements and enhance such policies to ensure that items that are inconsistent with Uber policies and procedures are not reimbursable and not reimbursed, and that proper controls are put in place to ensure compliance," the report said.

No More Excuses

Ever do something and blame your older sibling for setting a bad example? Not only are senior leaders going to be held accountable — both in performance review and pay — but Holder's report also calls on Uber to "eliminate those values which have been identified as redundant or as having been used to justify poor behavior."

Those values in question include: "Let Builders Build, Always Be Hustlin', Meritocracy and Toe-Stepping and Principled Confrontation," according to the report.