Uber’s quest to reform its behavior now includes donations to good causes. The ridesharing firm has promised to contribute $5 million over 5 years to organizations that help prevent sexual assault and domestic violence. The initial round of pledges will go to groups like A Call to Men, the National Network to End Domestic Violence and NO MORE, with a focus on tackling “critical funding gaps” in marginalized communities.
It’s tempting to see this as a public relations move. Uber has had a reputation for pervasive sexism in its ranks and problems with drivers perpetrating everything from harassment to rape, and this could improve its image. It’s also timely: the Harvey Weinstein scandal has spurred many people to come forward with stories of sexual assault and harassment. Uber may not want to stay silent and reinforce notions that it’s deaf to these concerns.
At the same time, though, this reflects Uber’s attempts to repair its underlying culture, particularly since Travis Kalanick stepped down. The company has taken multiple tangible steps to address sexism, harassment and assault, including awareness training for executives and customer support reps as well as hires intended specifically to fix its toxic culture. In past years, the pledge would have been seen as insincere at best. Now, it at least reflects what Uber would like to do — even if there’s still a lot of work left to do.