Remember this before you order your next Uber

Beeld: Taylor Kalanick, Paris, France, December 10, 2013. LeWeb Day 1. Image by Dan Taylor/Heisenberg Media

16 maart 2017, 13:23

Auteur: Shambhavi Chouhan

Uber has established itself as a corporate giant with a business valuation of hundred billion dollars, spread over 70 nations. Recently, a video surfaced of Travis Kalanick, the CEO and founder of Uber. His own driver spoke out about facing poverty as a consequent product of the rigid company policies. Kalanick sneered back: “Some people don’t like to take responsibility for their own shit.”

Uber has witnessed numerous grave accusations this past year, which include cases of sexism, sexual assault and breach of ethical laws. A prime example of the latter is seen during the New York protests against President Donald Trump’s ‘Muslim Ban’ because Uber was the only company that tried to escalate its profit by not participating in it. Though, Kalanick’s support for the Trump administration and its actions is expected given he initially was to serve as Trump’s business adviser. However, the plan fell through when he faced immense pressure from the public as well as Silicon Valley resulting in his withdrawal. Today, he faces suits from Uber drivers who fail to obtain a decent wage from his multi-billion dollar industry.

Photo: UBER
Photo: UBER

The ethical dilemma

Interestingly, Uber has been accused of using an unethical and even illegal tool called ‘Greyball’, which was reported by powerhouses such as BBC and the New York Times. Uber keeps track of all its customers and the ones who are identified as officials trying to investigate the business are automatically eliminated. A fake version of the application opens on their screen and displays cars making their way to the customer. However, the catch is that those cars do not exist and the booking is never completed for the customer due to apparent “high demand” or “cancellation”. This clearly shows the extent to which the company goes in order to establish dominance by possibly evading laws of business or ethics.

In France, customers have the facility to opt for not just an ordinary female driver, but a highly attractive one.

Accusations of sexism

The attitude towards women at the company’s workplace is an indicator of the sexist accusations towards them due to the organization and treatment of the staff. Kalanick has gone on to remark that instead of calling it Uber he should rename it to ‘Boob-er’ due to the amount of action he gets out of it. One of the executives had intimidated a female journalist, who questioned the business’ ethics by threatening to expose her personal details. Sadly, this doesn’t end here. Uber has a new scheme where in certain nations, such as France, customers have the facility to opt for not just an ordinary female driver, but a highly attractive one.

The emergence of a new class

Aber request. Photo: UBER
Aber request. Photo: UBER

The basic problem lies in how corporate brands present themselves today. Are we dealing with the emergence of a new class of corporate elites who skirt social responsibility in favour of profit? It is indeed disturbing to witness Kalanick’s clear disrespect for subordinates as he swears and disses his own driver. Uber, on the other hand, claims to engage in corporate social responsibility in nations with poor public infrastructure and stagnant development as it rapidly builds itself as the necessary Moghul there.

We must raise our concerns towards these thirsty, profit-driven barons and keep them from establishing a dominant hierarchy in our society. They owe us and our society a trustworthy service and a basic respect for women and subordinates. It is important to restrict the growth of such companies as customers deserve honesty, women deserve respect and the company’s own drivers deserve payment.

Shambhavi Chouhan

Shambhavi Chouhan (1997) is our international editor from New Delhi, India. She is deeply passionate about human rights and dreams of working with the United Nations one day, in the hope of delivering solutions to world conflicts. She currently studies Law at the Amsterdam University College and greatly enjoys writing as well as debating at Model UN Conferences. She has previously been published in news dailies and blogs in India as well regarding matters of contemporary youth issues. Amsterdam holds her in awe and the longing for a broader perspective on culture drew her there from the land of sun and spices. She can be very vocal about the significance of studying law and the brilliance of Haruki Murakami (her favourite writer) more often than not.
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