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Uber Is Just Another Company To Join The Long History Of Toxic Work Environments

March 1, 2017

In the past couple of weeks, Uber has continued to appear in multiple outlets as an out of control, misogynistic, company with a murky sense of morals.

For years, the ride-sharing company has received multiple sexual abuse allegations against their drivers. Now the accusatory lens is looking into the company's management.  

Susan J. Fowler recently published a blog post called, Reflecting On One Very, Very Strange Year At Uber, which documented the sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior she experienced while working at the company. Soon after the post was released, The New York Times published an article called Inside Uber’s Relentless Chaotic Culture, which only verified many of Fowler’s experiences.

Harvard Business School historian Nancy Koehn joined Boston Public Radio Tuesday to talk about the history of companies treating their employees poorly and the financial impact this can have.

“The existence of companies that beat the hell out of their employees, from all things from the workplace conditions of Carnegie steel to the early meat packing industry, textile factories. "This is not new news,” Koehn said.  

Koehn outlined the two different styles that companies can exhibit in the treatment of their employees and their effects.  “There has always been two different sets of attitudes. Whether you regard your employees as your most vital asset and therefore investing in them is being critical to the bottom line and your long term sustainability or whether you don’t. Whether you think of them as expendable inputs that you can churn through,” she said.

More so than ever, Koehn says, having a pristine image and a good public perception is important to the success of a business.

“We have a politicizing group of consumers that are increasingly using their dollars to vote with what a company stands for. Millennials are much more interested in working for companies that are aligned with their values,” Koehn said.”

Listen to our interview with Nancy Koehn above.


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