Uber has hired former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to lead an investigation into a former engineer's explosive allegations of gender discrimination and sexual harassment, according to a company-wide email sent on Monday by CEO Travis Kalanick. This comes less than 24 hours after Uber board member Arianna Huffington said that she and new HR chief Liane Hornsey would lead an "independent" investigation, which some quickly noted was hardly independent.
Huffington and Hornsey both will still be involved, as will Holder's law partner Tammy Albarran and Uber associate general counsel Angela Padilla. The group also will dig into Uber's overall workplace culture as it pertains to diversity and inclusion. In that vein, Kalanick pledged that Uber in the coming months will release its first workforce diversity report, something it hasn't done despite the example set by many of Silicon Valley's other large technology companies.
Why Holder? He's a respected outsider, although he has been publicly supportive of Uber in the past, such as arguing in favor of the company's background check practices. Holder also was hired last summer by Airbnb to craft an anti-discrimination policy, so he has some Silicon Valley experience.
What's next: Uber will be closely watched as it embarks on this investigation, and especially once the results are out. With a longstanding reputation for ignoring and excusing bad behavior, there will be a lot of pressure on the company to make bold moves if Holder finds the allegations to be truthful.