By Áine Cain
Bros are wreaking havoc on businesses.
This week, Uber temporarily lost its CEO, saw a board member leave after making a sexist comment, and was sued by a rape victim who alleges the company improperly gained access to her medical records.
This isn’t the ride-hailing giant’s first tangle with controversy.
It’s been under a cloud since February, when former Uber engineer Susan Fowler published allegations about the company’s culture of harassment on her blog. Fowler’s bombshell mentions a supervisor who propositioned her for sex, an HR department reluctant to look into her complaints, and a workplace that appeared hostile to women.
This prompted several investigations at Uber, including one headed by former Attorney General Eric Holder, which led to the recent firing of more than 20 employees.
The company pledged to make changes as a result of the investigation’s findings. These steps include revamping its institutional values, prioritizing measures that promote diversity and inclusion, and cleaning up its hard-partying reputation, as Business Insider’s Biz Carson reported. Now Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has taken a leave of absence from the company.
With headlines like these, it can seem like the workplace has gone to the bros.
In a New York Times piece, Dan Lyons portrays an average bro as a hustling, amoral young man who places “winning” above all else in business. “Bro culture” is what ensues when those typically inexperienced men take over the C-suite and allow their obnoxiousness to seep into the rest of the company.
The resulting “bro culture” tends to prioritize young men over all other employees, creating an environment that’s ripe for toxic behaviors like excessive partying and systemic harassment of colleagues.
Many are blaming Uber’s woes on the rise of bro culture. But is there a cure for this toxicity? And can it be prevented?
‘Do not use the stairwells to smoke, drink, eat, or have sex’
While it presently dominates headlines, Uber is hardly the only company that’s been accused of fostering such a bro-centric culture.
HR-software startup Zenefits attracted criticism over its “rambunctious, frat-like office culture,” Business Insider’s Eugene Kim reported.
After one raucous bash, employees received an email warning them not to ditch cigarettes, alcohol, or used condoms in the office’s stairwell: “Yes, you read that right. Do not use the stairwells to smoke, drink, eat, or have sex,” the email said, as The Wall Street Journal reported.
New York Magazine reported on alleged harassment at Thinx, an underwear and feminine-hygiene startup. A former employee filed a complaint with the City of New York Commission on Human Rights, as Business Insider reported. The employee alleged that CEO Miki Agrawal groped an employee, frequently changed clothes in the office, and conducted video conferences while naked