Uber board member David Bonderman resigned after receiving criticism for sexist remark aimed towards fellow board member Arriana Huffington at a staff meeting on Tuesday.
“There’s a lot of data that shows that when there is one woman on the board it’s much more likely that there will be a second women,” Huffington said in a recording obtained by Yahoo. She also emphasized that the transportation company’s board is currently 25 percent female with Nestlé executive Wan Ling Martello joining the board on Monday. Bonderman replied, “actually, what it shows is that it’s much more likely to be more talking.”
Bonderman later apologized in a company-wide email for his remark. “I want to apologize to my fellow board member for a disrespectful comment that was directed at her during today’s discussion,” he wrote. “It was inappropriate. I also want to apologize to all Uber employees who were offended by the remark. I deeply regret it.”
According to The Wall Street Journal, companies actually run differently when more women hold power. A study cited by the newspaper showed that companies with higher proportions of women in upper management gain higher profits and less stereotypical thinking. “The more women who are in positions of power visibly,”said Robin Ely, a Harvard Business School professor and gender researcher in the study report, “the better it is for women lower in the organization.”
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is on a leave of absence following numerous scandals. The eight-year-old company, said to be worth almost $70 billion, meant to quash any ill-will it earned in recent months—after a string of sexual assault allegations against drivers and anti-worker moves by the organization—by announcing initiatives that would help increase the hiring and retention of women and minorities. In a statement, Dr. Paul White, co-author of Rising Above a Toxic Workplace, wrote that “if Uber’s Board of Directors want to change the company’s culture, they will have to do more than replace Kalanick as CEO.”
“Toxic workplaces come from a combination of toxic leaders, sick systems… and dysfunctional team members who are masters of blaming and making excuses,” White continued. “Transforming a toxic work culture to a positive, vibrant work environment is built on understanding that your employees are people, not profit-centers. Until the leaders at Uber treat their drivers with the respect due them as individuals, nothing significant will change.”