David Bonderman, a member of Uber’s board of directors, has resigned after making a disparaging remark about women at a companywide event, the company confirmed Tuesday.
The much-anticipated meeting Tuesday was called to reveal the recommendations of former Attorney General Eric Holder, who was tapped to lead an inquiry into allegations of sexual harassment at the San Francisco startup. During the meeting, in which it was announced that CEO Travis Kalanick would take a leave of absence, Uber board member Arianna Huffington spoke of how her goal was to increase the diversity of the board “much as I like my white, male colleagues.”
“There’s a lot of data that shows when there’s one woman on the board, it’s much more likely that there will be a second woman on the board,” Huffington said.
To which Bonderman, founder of TPG Capital and chairman of the board at budget airline Ryanair, responded, “Actually what it shows is it’s much likely to be more talking.”
In a later statement, Bonderman called his comments “careless, inappropriate, and inexcusable” and said he would resign effective Tuesday to avoid being a distraction “as Uber works to build a culture of which we can be proud.”
Uber has used a smartphone app to upend the taxi industry and become the world’s most valuable startup. But along the way, it has had to contend with scandals and management turmoil in recent months.
The meeting came a week after Uber said it fired more than 20 employees as part of an internal investigation into sexual harassment allegations. The investigation leading to the dismissals was prompted by accusations in February by a former employee that women in the company were sexually harassed by other employees and that complaints were being dismissed by human resources.
Holder’s suggestions included leadership coaching for senior management, establishing a better complaint process, recruiting from a more diverse talent pool and soliciting anonymous feedback from employees.
The report also advised the company to make clear that any type of relationship between a subordinate and boss should be prohibited. The report also recommended Uber create rules around the acceptable and unacceptable use of alcohol and should “strictly prohibit the use of controlled substances.”
Those recommendations appear to be in response to a memo from Kalanick to employees reportedlywith fellow employees at a company outing in 2013. The letter also lightheartedly discouraged getting arrested, throwing beer kegs off buildings and public vomiting.
In addition to the sexual harassment probes, investors have lambasted the company for having a culture “plagued by disrespect;” a leaked video showing Kalanick berating a driver over fares; Google filed a lawsuit against the ride-hailing company claiming it stole self-driving car technology; a New York Times expose uncovered Uber’s secretive Greyball tool meant to thwart authorities in 2014; and a long list of top executives have stepped down.
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