Uber will conduct civil-rights audit in compromise with shareholders

Uber Technologies Inc. will conduct an independent civil rights audit after committing to the shareholders who had pushed for the company to review its practices.

Uber UBER,
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Board Chairman Ron Sugar announced the commitment on Monday at the company’s annual general meeting, which was only open to shareholders. A webcast of the meeting was released on Tuesday. At the meeting, Sugar announced that the company would conduct a “civil rights assessment” in what it called a “positive outcome” following talks with an alliance of investor groups and shareholder advocates.

SOC Investment Group, which has successfully promoted civil rights and racial equity audits at Citigroup Inc. C,
Apple Inc. AAPL,
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and JPMorgan Chase & Co. JPM,
– led the alliance in submitting a proposal for this audit and withdrew the proposal after reaching a commitment from the transport and delivery giant.

The proposal, also from As You Sow and Friends Fiduciary, urged Uber’s board to oversee “a third-party audit that looked at the adverse impact of Uber’s policies and practices on the civil rights of stakeholders. the company, beyond legal and regulatory matters, and to provide recommendations to improve the company’s impact on civil rights. ”

See: Uber and Lyft face shareholder push to reveal how much they’re spending on new labor laws

No audit schedule is known yet, and Uber did not respond to a request for comment prior to posting.

The alliance mentioned several reasons for the proposal, including:

  • Uber’s leadership is not diverse enough, namely “only 3.8% and 5.2% of its leadership are black and Hispanic, respectively.”

  • The company’s business model denies its alleged attempt to be anti-racist because “the misclassification of independent contractors has been found to disproportionately affect racial minorities.”

  • The company’s corporate contributions are not fully aligned with its public statements, such as “contributions” to Atlanta and Los Angeles police foundations that critics point to as ignoring the normal procurement process for buying equipment for police, including surveillance technology that has been used to target communities of people. ” color. ”

  • The California Public Service Commission fined Uber for refusing to disclose information about sexual assault.

  • A study by researchers at George Washington University found evidence of racial discrimination in Uber’s pricing algorithm.

Dieter Waizenegger, chief executive of SOC Investment Group, said in a statement that the company “has shown openness and is taking important first steps” to address investor concerns. He said Uber should now “apply due diligence throughout the process” to consult with community stakeholders and select civil rights experts to conduct the audit.

However, it was a mixed day for shareholder activists, as it appears that a shareholder proposal calling for more transparency around Uber’s lobbying activity has not garnered a majority of votes. The proposal of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters got the support of last year’s attempt, however, receiving 45% of the votes in favor this year compared to 31% last year, according to preliminary results; Official voting accounts are expected to be presented to the Securities and Exchange Commission by the end of the week.

Also: Apple investors approve the civil rights audit and another shareholder proposal

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