NEWS

Uber Board Member Resigns After Making Sexist Joke At Company Meeting On Sexism

14/06/2017 00:02 SAST | Updated 14/06/2017 04:21 SAST

Uber board of directors member David Bonderman has resigned after making a sexist crack about his female colleagues at a Tuesday meeting on the company’s plans to address complaints of sexism and other workplace culture problems.

New York Times reporter Mike Isaac was first to report the news of the resignation, citing two people with knowledge of the decision.

Bonderman faced criticism Tuesday after an exchange with fellow board member Arianna Huffington, the former editor-in-chief of HuffPost, during a company employee meeting. Huffington confirmed the resignation.

Audio from the conversation obtained by Yahoo documented Huffington speaking about bringing Nestle executive Wan Ling Martello onto the board, saying data showed that having women in such positions was a way to increase the hiring of females. 

“Actually, what it shows is that it’s much more likely to be more talking,” Bonderman replied. 

In the audio, Huffington laughs politely, saying, “Oh, come on, David.”

Addressing the group, she then says, “Don’t worry, David will have a lot of talking to do as well,” before moving on to a new topic.

Bonderman, 74, apologized for his attempt at humor in an email sent to Uber employees, according to his spokesman. He is the chairman and co-founder of TPG Capital, a major private-equity investment firm.

“I want to apologize to my fellow board member for a disrespectful comment that was directed at her during today’s discussion,” Bonderman wrote. “It was inappropriate. I also want to apologize to all Uber employees who were offended by the remark. I deeply regret it.”

Huffington acknowledged Bonderman’s apology in a statement provided to HuffPost. 

”David has apologized to all Uber employees for a remark that was totally inappropriate and against the new culture we are building at Uber,” she said.

The incident occurred the same day embattled Uber CEO Travis Kalanick announced he would be taking a leave of absence to grieve for his mother, who died in a boating accident last month.

At the meeting, company officials pledged to adopt the recommendations of a scathing report on its practices following intense criticism of its workplace culture. The company began the independent investigation process in February after former Uber engineer Susan Fowler published a blog post alleging discrimination and sexual harassment. 

Chief Human Resources Officer Liane Hornsey said on Tuesday that the company was committed to rebuilding trust but that “change does not happen overnight.”

“Implementing these recommendations will improve our culture, promote fairness and accountability, and establish processes and systems to ensure the mistakes of the past will not be repeated,” Hornsey said in a statement.

Ryan Grenoble contributed reporting.