Uber whittles CEO search down to 3 - but what do they have in common?

Uber whittles CEO search down to 3 - but what do they have in common?

Executive Grapevine
Executive Grapevine | Executive Grapevine International Ltd

The beleaguered ride-hailing app firm, Uber, have narrowed their search for a new CEO down to three candidates – and they’re all male.

After allegations of sexism, political affiliation and a toxic corporate culture, it’s unsurprising that no female Chiefs are rushing to replace Travis Kalanick, who was forced to step down under shareholder pressure.

The Denver Post reports that there are no females on Ubers’ shortlist, according to people familiar with the search, who spoke anonymously.

Outgoing General Electric Chairman Jeffrey R. Immelt is among the list. The other two candidates were not divulged.

According to the report, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg, and Susan Wojcicki, Chief of Google-owned YouTube turned down the job.  General Motors Chief Executive Mary Barra and EasyJet CEO Carolyn McCall, were also reportedly approached. HP Chief Executive, Meg Whitman last week removed herself out of the running with a post on Twitter.

Elizabeth Ames, Senior Vice President at the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology commented: “As much as I would love to see more women chief executives, too often women get the clean-up jobs, and I’d prefer to not always see women get the clean-up jobs.

“There are serious challenges for women who step into these roles. Because there are so few of them, the spotlight is much brighter, and if they don’t succeed, they aren’t judged in the same way a male CEO who didn’t succeed would be,” she added.

Ames views coincide with a phenomenon dubbed by workplace experts and researchers as “the glass cliff,” where women are often called into corporate leadership roles in times of crisis, and are subject to harsh criticism if companies don’t perform well. A 2013 review of CEO transitions in Fortune 500 companies over a 15-year period found that white women, as well as women and men of colour, were more likely than white men to get promoted to CEO when firms were performing poorly.

The Washington Post spoke to a number of female Executives and consultants in Silicon Valley, who were careful to say they did not know the exact reasons why each woman turned down the role. They acknowledged the reasons aside from sexism, for refusing the role, adding that men had also turned down the position. They also acknowledged the several daunting tasks ahead of the next leader, including creating a welcoming culture for women and rectifying the company’s reputation among customers, employees and drivers.

However, the issue of a lack of gender representation on Boards isn’t limited to the Silicon Valley firm. A new report collated by The Pipeline, found that women only make up 16% of executive committees at UK FTSE 350 companies.

Despite this, Tesco's Chairman, John Allan, believes women have a good chance of entering Board roles at present.

John Allan, who sits alongside nine other men and three women on the Tesco Board, said: “For a thousand years men have got most of these jobs. The pendulum has swung very significantly the other way and will do for the foreseeable future. If you are a white male, tough. You are an endangered species and you are going to have to work twice as hard.”

Allan, who earns £650,000 a year, also added: “If you are female and from an ethnic background, and preferably both, then you are in an extremely propitious period.”

However, Nicky Morgan, then Minister for Women and Equalities and MP for Loughborough, last year shared her concerns about the failure of top businesses to hire women. She said: “There are still more people called John chairing FTSE 100 Boards than there are women.”

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