Uber will conduct a civil rights review in agreement with shareholders

Uber Technologies Inc. will conduct an independent civil rights review after it compromised with shareholders who have urged the company to investigate its practices.

About UBER,
CEO Ron Sugar announced the commitment Monday at the company’s annual meeting, which was open to shareholders only. A webcast recording of the meeting was made publicly available on Tuesday. At the meeting, Sugar announced that after discussions with an alliance of investor groups and shareholder attorneys, the company would conduct a civil rights “assessment,” which he described as a “positive outcome.”

SOC Investment Group – which successfully lobbied for civil rights and racial justice audits at Citigroup Inc. C,
Apple Inc. AAPL,
and JPMorgan Chase & Co. JPM,
– led the Alliance in submitting a proposal for such an examination and withdrew the proposal after receiving a commitment from the ride-hailing and delivery giant.

The proposal, also from As You Sow and Friends Fiduciary, called on Uber’s board to “oversee a third-party audit that analyzes the adverse civil rights impacts of Uber’s stakeholders of Uber’s stakeholders, through legal… and regulatory matters, make recommendations to improve the company’s civil compliance.”

See: Uber and Lyft face pressure from shareholders to disclose how much they’re spending in the fight for new labor laws

There’s no known timeline for the audit yet, and Uber didn’t respond to a request for comment prior to publication.

The alliance gave several reasons for the proposal, including:

  • Uber’s leadership isn’t diverse enough, notably “only 3.8% and 5.2% of leadership are Black and Hispanic, respectively.”

  • The company’s business model belies its stated attempt to be anti-racist, as “misclassification of independent contractors has been found to disproportionately affect racial minorities.”

  • The company’s corporate posts are not fully consistent with its public statements, such as color.”

  • Uber is fined by the California Public Utilities Commission for refusing to disclose sexual assault information.

  • A study by George Washington University researchers who found evidence of racial discrimination in Uber’s pricing algorithm.

Dieter Waizenegger, executive director of SOC Investment Group, said in a statement that the company “has shown an open mind and is taking important first steps” to address investor concerns. He said Uber should now “apply the same due diligence throughout the process,” consulting with community stakeholders and selecting civil rights experts to conduct the review.

It’s been a mixed day for shareholder activists, however, as a shareholder proposal calling for more transparency around Uber’s lobbying activities appears to have failed to gain a majority. However, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters’ proposal was supported by last year’s trial and received 45% of the yes votes this year, according to preliminary results, compared to 31% last year; Official vote counts are expected to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission by the end of the week.

Also: Apple investors pass civil rights review and another shareholder proposal Uber will conduct a civil rights review in agreement with shareholders

Brian Lowry

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