Tech, Bad Behavior & the Absence of HR

Posted March 30, 2017 by Mary McGinley



Rarely a day goes by without Uber or another Silicon Valley tech giant somewhere in the headlines, often for something negative. Uber has been besieged by lawsuits of one kind or another, most regarding how the company addresses its drivers and internal personnel. The latest charge of sexual harassment and discrimination has come from former Uber engineer, Susan Fowler, who alleges that she was propositioned by her boss and was passed over for promotion within the company.  While most women in a similar position would go to HR or another manager to address their concerns, Fowler additionally alleges that her complaints were ignored by both management and human resources.

Uber is not alone against such charges being leveled by women who work in the tech sector in Silicon Valley.  Experts believe that this trend is an unfortunate by-product of startup companies that push the idea within their organizations of growth at all costs. Many of these companies don’t see human resources as an essential part of their operations but rather as something that only exists to clip the wings of a company that’s ready to break out and soar within the marketplace.

HR Not a Priority for Startups

In a recent article that appeared on The Columbian written by early investor Magdalena Yesil, HR ends up being a low priority for startups. “Of course, without HR at a time when you’re hiring very quickly, you don’t have anyone training new employees about what behavior is acceptable or not,” she said.

Yesil also indicated that once a company reaches the mark of approximately 100 employees, an experienced HR manager really should be in place within the organization.

According to  Y-Vonne Hutchinson, diversity consultant and founder of ReadSet in Oakland, California, the situation that occurred at Uber is, unfortunately, a common one, “….because HR doesn’t exist or is weak.” For these companies keeping top developers happy is the important thing. If complaints of bad behavior are lodged against a star player on the development team, it can slow down an organization’s push to make product or service milestones, which can be key in today’s marketplace. That puts HR professionals in Silicon Valley at an even further disadvantage.

Many of these startup companies are backed by venture capital firms and these kinds of allegations are not sitting well with them either. Uber’s decision to use insiders to investigate Fowler’s allegations drew criticism from husband and wife investors in the company, Mitch and Freada Kapor of venture capital firm, Kapor Capital. Such public allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination can end up being a public relations nightmare and that can make future investors wary.

Using a PEO firm can help a small to mid-sized company meet their HR needs. However, when EinsteinHR entered the HRO arena, our founders found through their research that many PEOs were not fully meeting the needs that their clients had.  We are committed to offering our clients a full range of human resource services in the most cost-efficient way possible.  We offer payroll and employee benefits management, recruitment to fill your open positions, training as well as compensation for your workers. Contact us today for a free consultation to find out how we can help.