Uber, Harassment and HR Business Partner Coverage – Let's Look at the Numbers…

By now, you’ve heard about this post accusing Uber of creating a hostile, harassing environment for women.  Rather than rehash the claim, I’m going to go to the numbers in this post.  See this post by Tim Sackett for analysis of the situation and see my commentary on Uber’s former HR Leader leaving the company before all this stuff broke by clicking here.

Let’s run some numbers.  Most of the allegations claim that Uber was focused on recruiting above and beyond all else.  But this post on HR at Uber from Recode gives us some interesting numbers to think about related to HR staffing:

“It’s most glaring overall problems seems to center on how the human resources role was conceived at Uber by its brash and commanding leader Kalanick. The issue: He felt the function of HR at Uber was largely to recruit talent and also efficiently let go of personnel when needed, according to sources.

During the first half of 2016, sources said, the company had fewer than 10 representatives — called human resources business partners — who served to train managers or handle things like sexual harassment for its close to 6,000 employees.

Leadership coaching or training is especially important at Uber and other tech companies, where many of the department heads or top execs are often younger staffers who would work their way up at the company. According to sources, Atwood spent considerable time defending the need for more HR business partners.

But, according to one source, there was one HR business partner handling the entire Asia Pacific region; two handling Europe, the Middle East and Africa; three in corporate functions handling engineering, finance and marketing; and only three working in operations and with city teams.

Uber disputed this and says the company had around 20 people dedicated to that role at the time. Today, the company has 35 and plans to add between 30 and 40 more under Hornsey.”

Credit to Recode for being sharp enough to think about employee count vs HR staffing as a potential source of the problem.  

Unfortunately, the numbers don’t tell us enough.

10 HRBPs for 6,000 employees.  Is that a heavy workload or just right?  You know the answer if you’re an HR leader – it depends what their role is and what other HR resources are available.

If you’ve got specialists working recruiting, benefits, admin and more, it’s possible for HRBPs to be effective with a 600/1 count.

If these same HRBPs are responsible for recruiting and more in addition to employee relations, they are screwed from a workload perspective.

Add the flavor of Kalanick prioritizing recruiting over everything else, and the status of the HRBP doing it all with a 600/1 ratio moves from “screwed” to “total screwed”.  Qualifying questions like “did he say he liked your blouse alone or the way it made your body look?” become rationalizations for not digging deeper because the HRBP didn’t have time and the organization didn’t want to hear about it anyway.

600/1 for an HRBP?  It all comes down to what’s behind that HRBP in terms of specialized support to determine if that ration is fair.  

Going to be an interesting investigation.

 

 

This post originally appeared on The HR Capitalist
Author: Kris Dunn