As it prepares to go public, Uber says it is committing to more transparency around sexual assaults that happen on its platform.
In its much-anticipated IPO filing today, the company promised to disclose information about safety incidents that take place in Uber vehicles in the United States. “In 2019, we plan to release a transparency report, which will provide the public with data related to reports of sexual assaults and other safety incidents claimed to have occurred on our platform in the United States,” the company said.
The report appears to be pegged to the wave of negative press Uber endured in 2017. First, the company faced a consumer backlash when it was perceived to be blocking a taxi strike at LaGuardia airport as drivers refused to pick up riders in response to President Trump’s ban on travel from eight countries. The hashtag #DeleteUber cost the company consumers and simultaneously propelled the growth of its competitor Lyft. Waymo also filed a lawsuit in 2017 accusing Uber of stealing proprietary technology.
But the biggest scandal was related to sexual discrimination and harassment. In 2017, former Uber employee Susan Fowler wrote her now-famous blog post detailing the toxic culture inside of Uber corporate. Later that year, a report came out accusing Uber executives of obtaining the medical records of a rape victim and actively trying to diminish the rape, which was perpetrated by one of its drivers.
If nothing else, the transparency report signals changing times; the Uber of yore was loathe to admit to abuses on its platform, let alone make them public.
Uber warned in its filing that the transparency report could lead to further bad press:
“While we have taken significant steps to rehabilitate our brand and reputation, the successful rehabilitation of our brand will depend largely on maintaining a good reputation, minimizing the number of safety incidents, improving our culture and workplace practices, improving our compliance programs, maintaining a high quality of service and ethical behavior, and continuing our marketing and public relations efforts.”