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Uber just tried to recruit the woman who helped bring down Travis Kalanick

Whoops.

Uber just tried to recruit the woman who helped bring down Travis Kalanick
[Photo: courtesy of Uber]

In trying to recruit more women, Uber may have accidentally gone to far. PowerToFly, a recruitment firm focused on surfacing candidates who are not white and male, has apparently sent out an email blast to a series of women encouraging them to apply for one of three vastly different roles at Uber (marketing, engineering, and product design). Among the women to receive this email was  Susan Fowler, the woman famed for taking Uber down.

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Safe to say, Fowler isn’t interested.

This faux pas, of course, isn’t Uber’s fault, but rather that of a recruiting firm. After a very tough 2017, the company has taken many different steps to revamp its corporate culture. Initially it  brought on a team of women, including Harvard’s Frances Frei (who joined Uber as SVP of strategy and leadership to train management and has since transitioned to a more advisory role), Bozoma St John, and Liane Hornsey to help bring a new sheen to the company’s tarnished reputation. Board member Ariana Huffington also played a prominent role as a sort of spokesperson for the company at this time. Uber has also taken other steps to “do the right thing,” like ending its policy of forced arbitration for sexual assault claimants. Part of that includes working with recruitment firms aimed at bringing in a more female candidates, like PowerToFly.

PoweToFly’s cofounder Katharine Zaleski said that she’s not sure how Fowler’s email got into her company’s database, but that she shouldn’t have been sent that email regardless. Per her explanation, PowerToFly has several sets of email lists and Fowler was on a list one of people who hadn’t opted in to the company’s service. Therefore, she should not have been sent an email about new job listings. Zaleski notes that it’s ironic that this happened, because without Fowler’s landmark blog post her company probably wouldn’t even be working with Uber. To Fowler she says, “Thank you and I’m sorry I spammed you.”

That said, there are a lot of people and organizations doing good work to make sure that workplaces are more inclusive of a wider variety of people. Next time, use better targeting.

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About the author

Ruth Reader is a writer for Fast Company who covers gig economy platforms, contract workers, and the future of jobs.

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