Uber's diversity report says 36 percent of employees are women

After repeated calls for Uber to disclose its employee diversity, the San Francisco-based tech company released a diversity report Tuesday.

The report includes a pledge by the company to invest $3 million over three years to groups that work to bring women and underrepresented groups into tech.

It might be a sign that Uber is ready to turn a corner.

The company has been on a fast track, rising in eight years from a ride-sharing start-up to an internationally known company. It has been fiercely competitive and private.

Dara Kerr, a CNET reporter who focuses on Uber and other tech companies in the "on-demand" economy,  says Jesse Jackson has been calling for tech companies including Uber to release employee diversity statistics for years.

"Google, Apple, Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft, you name it have released diversity reports," Kerr said, "Uber on the other hand has refused to release its diversity statistics until now."

The company's diversity report showed a profile, similar many to the more established tech companies.
Overall Uber employees are about 64 percent men, 36 percent women. About half  are white, 31 percent are Asian and the rate for blacks, Latinos and other minorities are in the single digits.

Kerr says the overall numbers were in line with other tech company demographics.

"They've largely shown that they have majority white, majority male staffs," Kerr said.

"You couldn't tell me there is not a pool of African-American, Latino, Native American computer science students, it is a matter of looking at maybe they are non-traditional universities," said Christopher Russell, an African-American tech worker who lives in San Francisco.

"It's usually I"m the only woman on the team. Like on our team, I'm the only woman there," said Irene Heras, a tech worker who lives in Redwood Shores.

Uber's report also shows its tech leadership is 75 percent Caucasian and 25 percent Asian, with no black, Latino or Native American employees in the company's executive ranks.

Uber said in a statement, "We're still relatively young as a company, and we know we have a lot more to do...we recognize the relative lack of diversity across all forms of leadership, including on our board of directors, and will be thoughtful about diversity as the company grows."

Jennifer Chatman, a professor of management at UC Berkeley's Haas Business School says it is not so much an issue of the pool of candidates as the culture and commitment of the company.

"If Uber wanted to hire more women into technology jobs, there would be women available and qualified for these positions. But Uber has created a culture in the company that is based in aggressive indivdualism...This seems a little less hospitable to women," Chatman said.

Professor Chatman adds that although an aggressive posture has helped Uber disrupt the transportation industry, as a company such as Uber grows, it will need to be more creative to compete in the marketplace. She notes that Uber will need to look for more diversity of perspectives and ideas within its own company and in all areas of its leadership team.

"Companies that are serious about diversity have diversity through all levels," Chatman said.

Uber also said it will begin visiting Historically Black Colleges and Universities as well as colleges with strong Latino populations, as it pushes forward in its recruiting.

You can read the Uber diversity report here