An Uber manager attempting to recruit a female engineer allegedly tried to defend the embattled company by telling her "sexism is systemic in tech". Kamilah Taylor, a senior software engineer at LinkedIn and co-author of Women In Tech, said she was recently approached by Uber with a job offer.
Taylor, however, responded via LinkedIn saying she had no interest in joining "in light of Uber's questionable business and sexism".
The manager, who is a woman, replied saying: "I understand your concern. I just want to say that sexism is systemic in tech and other industries. I've met some of the most inspiring people here."
The exchange, posted on Twitter, has drawn fierce backlash and comes as the latest in a series of PR crises plaguing the ride-hailing service in recent months.
Taylor told The Guardian that a male friend, who was also being recruited by the manager, told her that he didn't want to join Uber given the slew of criticism targeting the company of late. However, the Uber manager reportedly sent him a different response to his concerns.
"Please keep in mind that not all the [organisations] at Uber have the terrible culture described in the blog posts," the manager reportedly wrote. "We have some good orgs at the company or I wouldn't be here otherwise."
Taylor's friend said: "I don't want to be associated with a company at all if I have moral objections to how they operate."
"We are investigating but this message not sanctioned by Uber's recruiting department," an Uber spokesperson told The Guardian, adding that it is currently working to improve its recruitment process and candidate experience by "ensuring we have diverse panels of trained interviewers".
Since the beginning of the year, Uber was hit with a damaging #DeleteUber campaign, sexual harassment allegations, revelations that the firm is using secret software to sidestep laws, an intellectual property lawsuit filed by Waymo and multiple executive departures.
Last month, former engineer Susan Fowler published a chilling account detailing systemic sexual harassment and a toxic work culture at Uber. The firm hired former US Attorney General Eric Holder to lead an independent investigation into the allegations.
Uber board member Arianna Huffington, who is also involved with the ongoing investigation, recently said sexism is not a systemic problem at Uber.
"Yes, there were some bad apples, unquestionably. But this is not a systemic problem," Huffington said. She also defended Kalanick saying the 40-year-old executive is "evolving" amid the crises, describing him as the "heart and soul of Uber".
A recent video emerged of Kalanick berating an Uber driver over fares. He later issued a public apology and admitted he needs to "grow up" and needs leadership help. Uber is currently looking for a new chief operating officer to help Kalanick run the company and has vowed to clean up its sexist culture.
Earlier this week, Huffington and two top female Uber executives said the company has vowed to "fundamentally change" its work culture. Chief human resources officer Liane Hornsey said during the press call: "Too little attention was being paid to the way the things were operating internally. Now is the time to rectify this balance."
She said Uber will publish its first diversity report by the end of the month.
"The focus of the company has been on the business and not the employees," Hornsey said. "Our focus on diversity and inclusion will be critical to ensuring that Uber is a great place to work."