In an effort to tackle recommendations aimed at refurbishing its corporate image after a season of scandal, Uber is not only boosting the pay of its employees but also guaranteeing pay equity between the sexes and across races.
Uber human resources chief Liane Hornsey made the announcement in an email to employees on Tuesday, noting that the biggest bumps would go to the company’s lifeblood: engineers.
While Buzzfeed was first to report the pay boost to the tech team, tech industry news site The Information on Wednesday provided a detailed breakdown of the salary changes as well as word that Uber would be allocating millions to also ensure that pay scales remained uniform across job titles.
Uber confirmed the details to USA TODAY, adding in a statement that while “to date, our compensation approach has been similar to that of other pre-IPO companies, as we’ve grown it’s become clear that we need to adjust our philosophy and continue to increase transparency going forward.”
In an interview with USA TODAY in May, Hornsey said that a five-month listening tour of employee complaints identified pay and pride as top concerns. “They need more love and respect from the company,” she said. “That’s my sense of what’s wrong.”
At the time of the interview, Uber was grappling with a range of self-inflicted wounds, chief among them charges of fostering a discriminatory work environment where women often felt not just like second-class citizens but also were ignored when they raised examples of harassment and inappropriate behavior.
Those charges ultimately led to Uber investors asking CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick to resign as CEO of his company. Uber is currently being led by 14 senior executives, who are also on the hunt for a new chief executive to lead a start-up worth upwards of $70 billion.
An internal investigation into Uber’s culture and governance led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder led to a long list of recommendations that included a refreshed board with more external oversight and overhauled internal policies that pay more attention to employee morale and complaints.
Toward the end of Holder’s list, released in mid-June, was a recommendation to “review and assess Uber’s pay practices,” including striving for pay equity, a longtime thorn in the side of many businesses.
Beginning August 1, Uber will reposition the salaries of most of its employees (more than 12,000 globally) based on job title, office location and time with the company, according to The Information.
Specifically, non-technical employees making below the industry median will be brought up to the median. For those in tech roles, which includes some 2,000 engineers who make the app-driven company work, the median will be boosted by 10% and employees will receive a 2.5% salary bump for each year at the company.
Technical employees whose salaries are already above the new median will get a 5% pay bump, unless they have worked at Uber for three years or longer, the site reported.
As with most start-ups, the bulk of employee compensation is locked up in stock options. Uber recently greatly relaxed its rules on exercising those options if any employee chose to leave the company, another move to try and soften its harsh corporate image.
Uber also took steps to ensure that women and people of color are paid the same as their white, male counterparts.
In its first ever report on the diversity of its workforce, Uber said nearly two-thirds of its workforce are men. In the U.S., white employees represent 49.8% of the workforce, Asians 30.9%, blacks 8.8% and Hispanics 5.6%. In technical roles and in leadership, women and underrepresented minorities made up a sliver of such jobs.
Some tech companies have made pay equity a cornerstone of their HR philosophy, among them Apple, Salesforce, Amazon and Microsoft.
Women make up half the U.S. college-educated workforce but those with full-time jobs were on average paid 80 cents for every dollar earned by men in nearly every occupation for which there was sufficient earnings data in 2015, according to findings released earlier this year by the non-profit Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR).
Making that commitment may take the moral high ground, but it also renders companies in a more competitive position when it comes to luring hard-to-find tech talent.