Uber’s Graceful Fall
Mr Muhammad Rahim spent several nights to convince his wife into allowing their daughter to ride with Uber. However, fears grew as soon as he read the company’s safety report, which explicitly revealed thousands who were involved in sexual assaults in the last year. He decided that it was only right to not compromise on his daughter’s safety, regardless of what the statistics showed. In a newly released report by the ride-sharing giant, the 84-page report detailed astonishing results that constitute to close to 6000 sexual assault cases – 235 incidents of rape, 280 reports of attempted rape and close to 1600 incidents of groping in 2018.
Like other riders such as Mr Rahim who question the extent to which their safety was at risk, it must also be noted that 45 per cent of the time, riders were the one at fault. The announcement sent Uber’s shares falling by close to 3% to $27.81, with an estimated loss of $1 billion from its current market capitalisation. This further emphasises that it is indeed a tough time for the company. Earlier this year, the company went public, but its stock has not been performing with the company reporting a loss of more than $5 million in August 2019.
More recently in October, Uber has fired more than 300 employees in what was regarded to be its third attempt to lay off employees. Meanwhile, in a twitter post, Uber’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has acknowledged that being open with the figures and taking subsequent actions to put an end to such a situation was the right thing to do. While he empathised with victims who emerged as survivors, he too recognised that this sad episode would allow the firm to make a significant step moving forward.
This was further validated by the National Service Violence Resource Centre who commended the firm for being able to release shameful results about itself. Across the world, the firm has denied access to more than a million prospective drivers. Additionally, in the US, an initiative to launch audio-record trips will be rolled out in ensuring the safety of both parties. Under this scenario, riders and drivers will not be aware as to when the recording commences. In the case where safety is compromised, riders can opt to submit the recording to the firm’s customer support team. Closer to home, 6500 New Zealand drivers have till January 2020 till complete a sexual harassment course or they risk losing their jobs. Yet, Uber continues to face global issues around the world that counteract its success.
More specifically, Uber France is struggling with yet another drama that has unfolded. The firm currently faces accusations where it deletes users’ comments and messages regarding incidents of sexual assaults. As such, it is evident that current efforts implemented are not enough. In a society where technology advancements are primarily meant to improve the lives of humans, its presence also reveals the uglier side of the coin where humans’ lives are at stake. Consequently, in the long run, it is crucial for firms to not be complacent in ensuring that their reputation and the safety of stakeholders will not be compromised.
By Caroline Wong
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