Learning lessons from an Uber problem
 
Learning lessons from an Uber problem
24 FEBRUARY 2017 8:27 AM

Hoteliers should pay attention to the allegations of sexual harassment against Uber and make sure they are protecting themselves and their employees. 

Sometimes things come up in the news that should inspire a bit of self-reflection. Companies are no exception.

We’re all learning more and more about the sexual harassment allegations against the ride-share giant Uber, made by a former female engineer who wrote about her experience at the company in a personal blog. The employee claimed that, on her first day at the company, her boss propositioned her through a company chat program.

Although she took screenshots of his messages, the company’s upper management reportedly declined to take action against him because he was a high performer. As a result of reporting the harassment, she claimed, her career path within the company was blocked.

Since she published the blog entry on 19 February, the amount of attention it’s received has turned the company upside down. Uber executives brought in former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. to look into harassment issues within the company. Follow-up news reporting has revealed others have shared similar experiences within the company.

This development should give every hotel company executive pause. A situation like this is a good opportunity for everyone to make sure they don’t have similarly permissive work environments.

I’m not a lawyer, I don’t even play one on TV, but I can imagine any attorney or human resources director would advise having policies in place that outline and prohibit sexual harassment. Similarly, I would hope an attorney or HR director might blow a gasket if they found out company officials ignored clear evidence of sexual harassment against an employee.

Aside from all of the legal reasons to prevent sexual harassment or stop it if it’s occurring—and those are very good reasons, by the way—the most important reason to have a workplace free of this behavior is so that all employees feel safe and welcome when they walk through the door. It’s easy to get caught up in the scandalous nature of the allegations or any possible courtroom drama that might come from it, but we can’t forget the purpose of these policies and practices is to protect all employees. Without them, there is no company.

The tech space has its issues with gender equality, but that issue is not isolated within that industry. It exists to some degree in every industry, hospitality included. Use what has happened at Uber to reflect on your company’s values and policies. Make sure yours is a place where employees don’t need to fear coming into work every day and where they don’t need to weigh reporting inappropriate and threatening behavior against their future employment.

What lessons do you think the hotel industry can learn from the allegations against Uber? Are hotel companies making the same mistakes, and, if so, how can they fix them? Share your thoughts below in the comment section. You can also contact me at bwroten@hotenewsnow.com and @HNN_Bryan.

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