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Uber executive resigns following probe into racial discrimination (reuters.com)
85 points by jbegley 3 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 71 comments



This isn't surprising. Every company I've worked for, HR seemed out to protect the company only and try to quiet/bury complaints. It's a well known mantra not to ever talk to HR, sad as it's become...


The timeline in the article says that allegations were made against her about racial discrimination, and then she left the company (with all parties declining to comment). Isn't this sort of the opposite situation from your run-of-the-mill evil/apathetic HR dept stories where the victims get the short end of the stick?


That part was a little unclear to me...but it seems to be both against her directly and against her dismissing complaints more broadly via the anonymous tip line. Apologies if I misunderstood!


> HR seemed out to protect the company

well, that is their job ...

> This isn't surprising.

Not sure how those two statements go together. HR's job is to protect the company from HR-related issues, like claims of discrimination. When the head of HR is herself embroiled in a discrimination inquiry, it shouldn't be a surprise that she is asked to leave.


But that's never how HR is framed. It's always framed as your friend, if you need anything at all, if you have any problem...talk to HR. Every company I've worked for has been that way. In my experience, based on reports from people who had complaints(though I've never had an issue myself), HR's primary role is making you 'shut up and go away.'


I think their role is really to determine if there’s any legal risk which they use to determine if they should eliminate the problem or ignore it. In theory that should mean protecting the company from a manager or other employee engaging in discrimination or harassment. The trouble is that HR is like internal affairs. Since they’re part of the organization they can be influenced by politics.

I sometimes wonder if legal aspect of the role HR serves would be better served by an outside legal firm that can determine the risk “objectively”. They’re never going to choose an outcome that will better serve an employee but HR doesn’t do that anyway. At least they’ll be able to tell the organization, “This dipshit is going to get you sued and you’re going to lose” without worrying about an HR manager trying to sweep something under the rug because they have a good relationship with the people in question.


"Milkshake Duck is a valued and respected member of the organisation and has been here many years..."


Disclaimer: I work at U

Liane was beloved at Uber. I cannot speak to any issues of racial discrimination, but I definitely felt that Lianne was one of the "good" folks at the company, and I am very surprised and dissapointed by this news.


> I definitely felt that Lianne was one of the "good" folks at the company, and I am very surprised and dissapointed by this news.

People were saying the same thing about Bill Cosby, that he was one of the "good guys" right up until light was shed on his behavior with a specific subset of human beings.

I know great engineers who treat me really well but at the same time are horrible human beings who treat specific subgroups of people in an unacceptable way.

This process of helping such people identify that they have a problem, that they are behaving in an unacceptable way and then fixing it is a good thing.


It sounds like you are comparing a viewers relationship with bill cosby to this person's relationship with the HR rep.

People that knew bill well knew he was weird before he got hit with all the accusations. He would do weird stuff like order people to stand/sit infront of him and watch him eat.


Are you a person of color? Because the issue was about racial discrimination. I don't doubt she may treat non color folks great but you may not be hearing the whole story.


OTOH any company trying to desperately restore its reputation might be inclined to act on the merest whiff of an allegation of this sort.


[flagged]


I'm not really interested in your word game, but the comment made me think of something. I'm a "visible minority" in Japan. It's easy to know because I can see the difference between myself and most people that I interact with.

I was looking in the mirror one time and suddenly thought, "Wow! I'm pink. I mean, not just a little pink -- I'm super pink". I'd never thought about it before. It's just that after a decade of looking at everybody else that has a kind of tanned complexion, my view of "normal" had changed.

I used to have a pink shirt. I took out my pink shirt and put it on. "Wow. I look like a peach", I thought. I've never worn that shirt again. It doesn't suit my complexion. I don't know why I thought it suited my complexion before. What was I thinking, pink on pink? It's just crazy.

Don't get me wrong. I don't mind being pink. I've been pink my whole life and for a large majority of it, I didn't even notice. Most people were pink where I grew up. There were other people who were more tanned, and even some people who were kind of super tanned. I never really paid attention to it. It didn't matter to me. But after I realised that I was super pink, I started to wonder if those people realised that they were super tanned. Did it bother them?

Some people (very few to be honest) have treated me poorly only because I was pink. It hasn't really bothered me so far. It's not like I can change colour. In my original country, some people treated me poorly because I liked computers too much. When I moved to Japan, some people treated me poorly because I liked Japan too much. I probably could have changed those things, but I didn't. People treating me poorly for stupid reasons is crappy, but I'm too stubborn to worry about it much. I've met people who have suffered greatly because of it, though. I feel bad for them.

Anyway, it doesn't really matter, but I think the real answer to your question is that if you've never thought about it, then you are not a person of colour. If you suddenly realise what colour you are, then you will be. Whether you are or not makes very little difference to most people except you. Hopefully people won't treat you poorly (including because of what colour they think you are), but... there's always something isn't there? Whether it's because of your colour, or because they think you are annoying, or because they are just mad at something completely different and decide to take it out on you.

But yeah, the colour thing exists, even if you aren't aware of it.


I had something similar after two months in Thailand. All of the people I saw when I got home were so... caucasian. And tall. With weird-shaped noses, and so many different kinds and colours of hair. It was weird.


Sorry, I don't know what you mean. I'm not playing a word game. Someone earlier in the thread asked if somebody was a person of color, and I just want to know how to determine that. I appreciate you sharing the information you did. That was interesting. But I don't really see how it relates to my question. I just want to know the procedure for determining whether someone is a person of color. Are you able to explain the procedure? Do I understand correctly from what you wrote that you are a person of color?


Ask an adult? Are you usually treated as nonwhite by strangers?


You're suggesting I don't have adult intellectual capacity, right? If it's an easy question, could you just answer it? I'm not sure what "treated as nonwhite" would entail.


You used the internet to ask a question that could be googled in seconds. You are not of adult intellectual capacity, demonstrably so.


If you continue to break the site guidelines we are going to have to ban you. Please fix this by posting civilly and substantively, or not at all.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17504893

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


I see, sorry about that. Are you able to answer the question in your own words?


I don't know how to make my own words, can you elaborate please?


Sure. What I'm asking for is an explain-like-I'm-5 style explanation of how you determine whether someone is a person of color. Are you able to do that? Thanks.


Please, everyone stop this back-and-forth nonsense. It's trolling and troll-feeding in effect regardless of intention and it has no business on a site where we want the chance to actually learn something.


I'm sorry. I don't want to make you or anyone else upset. But my honest opinion is that this is a productive thread that people can learn from, even if it isn't of the form you expect.


[flagged]


[flagged]


We asked you to stop, so now we've banned the account.


> You're suggesting I don't have adult intellectual capacity, right?

You're certainly acting that way.


Are you able to answer the question?


What is your race?

b6 3 months ago [flagged]

I don't know. How do I find out for sure?


I guess if you really don't know, ask your parents?

b6 3 months ago [flagged]

I asked them. They're not sure either. Is there a test we can do to know for sure?


[Deleted] My apologies dang, sctb.


Please also stop.


Please stop.


Can you say the N word to black people without being charged with a hate crime?


If you weren’t among those discriminated against, you don’t speak for everyone.


Even if you were among those discriminated against, you don't speak for everyone. No-one speaks for everyone.


They're not speaking for everyone. They're speaking for themselves. Of being discriminated.


Your counter argument is weak. No on claimed she discriminated against everyone. The only claim is that she discriminated against someone and that is all the proof that is needed.


I don’t think you are disagreeing with the person you’re replying to.

Your point that it can be discrimination without affecting all people of <x description> matches their point that one person of <x description> can’t speak for the experiences of all other people like them.


There are those of us who are happy with the new leadership in general who were not fans of her. That's not a conversation I'm having on a public forum, though.


Then why mention it at all? If you're not willing to back up such a statement like that with any kind of reasoning and state so explicitly, why bother telling anyone? This is a forum; implying a place for discussion. If you don't intend to do that, refraining from such provocative but unsubstantiated additions is more positive.


If the person who works at uber wants to know more they know how to get in contact with me, I use my real name here and I’m not about to get fired for providing at least a hint that not everyone was hoodwinked by her.

Also, if you think my hedging here is paranoid: https://www.pcgamer.com/amp/guild-wars-2-writers-fired-follo...


And as a privacy engineer you're unaware of anyway to maintain your privacy and remain anonymous in order to provide constructive additions to the conversation?

You don't fear firing due to stating your dislike of the former exec but fear what might happen if you explain that dislike???


Since I feel like I didn’t address the core of your latter point: the difference here is that I don’t violate any agreements with my employer by stating a simple opinion. I put myself at risk when I explain that with information that is 1) worth pageviews and incidniary writing and 2) violates the trust of people I respect who have shared their own anecdotes with me. I could paint broad strokes but that doesn’t help folks understand things any better than if I just elided it entirely.


"providing at least a hint that not everyone was hoodwinked by her"

I think this already goes beyond opinion into insinuation.


That's fair and appreciated. At that point I was agitated and defensive last night, and that came out there.


Friend, this is a professional forum and I am trying to be just that: professional. I don’t want to waste my time having to do damage control if the internet decides to shit on me for having an opinion. I want to provide viewpoints to my anonymous coworker upthread that not everyone agrees with them.


Couldn't you criticize the parent comment for exactly the same reason? Someone posted "I liked her" and someone else posted "well I didn't."


I see no indication that the parent would refuse to provide reasoning behind their statement.


If I edited my last sentence out and simply ignored any responses instead would you be satisfied?


> why bother telling anyone

To me, the intent here appears to be to offer anecdata to make a case that she wasn't _universally_ beloved. I think it's meaningful and useful to be reminded that employees in a company aren't a bunch of mindless sheep and that they can have different values and opinions.

There's no need to do any lynching/bad-mouthing publically for that.


> If you're not willing to back up such a statement like that with any kind of reasoning and state so explicitly...

This is unwarranted. GP's comment was vague, but no vaguer than the one they were replying to - both offered subjective personal opinions about the topic of the article. That's hardly out of line for a discussion forum.


Seems that she disagrees with you.


It doesn’t sound like this is about racial discrimination.

It sounds like it’s more about her saying things about diversity that others didnt like.

Not really the same thing IMO.


> It sounds like it’s more about her saying things about diversity that others didnt like.

Where in the article does that "sounds like" come from?


> It doesn’t sound like this is about racial discrimination.

Hmm, I didn't get that from the linked article. Care to substantiate?


The article doesn't say Hornsey criticized the idea of diversity.

It says she is alleged to have used discriminatory language, and made derogatory comments to a coworker.

So very much about discrimination.


This HR exec started in January 2017, and Susan Fowler’s bombshell blog post was Feb. 2017. It sounded like the culture had a signficant turnaround not just because of the public scrutiny, but Khosrowshahi‘s new leadership. The HR Director can’t claim to have been caught off-guard by the internal culture changes.


people had forgotten that Liane was hired by Travis, before the shit hit the fan, I guess.[1]

[1]: http://www.businessinsider.com/ex-google-softbank-liane-horn...


Yes, it’s surprising people have forgotten this. Her comments about Fowler immediately after she left were also extremely suspect at best.


I believe the catalyst for this was Bozoma Saint John leaving. Once I saw her announce her departure on twitter, I thought to myself, "WTF happened? Isn't this too soon? She just joined" Her ton of having to take a break and travel the world also hinted it wasn't mutual or a happy situation. I won't be surprised that reports started probing, asking questions and Uber had to clean up before they ended up heavily on the news again.


I'm curious about what do they mean when they talk about dismissing complaints. They mean that the complaints weren't investigated at all, or that action wasn't taken after an investigation?


It is interesting, it seems like the default position is "Every complaint is legitimate". There are no specifics given so we're left to speculate and land wherever our own bias tends to lean.


What were the complaints?


From the article:

"They alleged Hornsey had used discriminatory language and made derogatory comments about Uber Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion Bernard Coleman, and had denigrated and threatened former Uber executive Bozoma Saint John, who left the company in June."

"Some of the allegations were substantiated, investigators from law firm Gibson Dunn told the employees in a May 15 email that was seen by Reuters."


I was hoping for more details than that. Hard to draw my own conclusions based only on what was reported in the article.


The article implies it has to do with the racial discrimination at people of color.


There definitely is scope of further resignations on sexual harassment charges as well.


What makes you say that?


Uber has a well recorded history of sexual harassment claims that were not heeded by their HR. Susan Fowler's article brought it to light.




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