“Kings are the slaves of history.”
—Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
Katie Paine, CEO, Paine Publishing
In today’s personality-driven culture, it’s sometimes hard to sort out whether it’s the guy at the top who causes a crisis or the culture he has created within the organization. Either way, most of the time, a crisis starts at the top. But in 2017, one could make the case that cultural and social norms are exerting a greater influence than the people in charge. The crises we’ll examine here, we would argue, owe as much if not more to changing norms than to corporate leadership.
Uber’s most recent crises are in many ways products of the social issues roiling our society. When taxi drivers called a strike in support of immigrants, Uber lowered its prices in NYC. The perception was that Uber was trying to profit off the striking workers. In response the #deleteuber hashtag trended on Twitter and more than 200,000 people deleted the app. Many switched to arch-rival Lyft, whose CEO pledged to donate $1 million to the ACLU.
Just a few weeks later another crisis erupted. A former employee, Susan Fowler, posted a blog detailing the sexual harassment and sexism she experienced at the company.
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