Uber’s CEO is out because of pressure, not some ethical epiphany from the board


It’s hard to predict exactly how much pressure is needed to affect change, but it’s clear to see when there is enough. And there was finally enough to flush out Uber’s CEO.

But let’s not kid ourselves. Kalanick didn’t get the boot because Uber’s board had some ethical epiphany. They presided over his misdeeds for years. Fat, golden years steered by toxic leadership and fueled by depraved acts.

Now greed has taken a backseat to fear. Fear that the pressure that once seemed so easy to ignore will suddenly drown them all. Flushing out the CEO goes from “impossible to even consider” to “impossible to avoid” in what seems no time at all.

On the board, it probably did look like “life comes at you fast”, but that’s only because they’ve been ignoring a dashboard full of warning lights for years. Blinded by those seventy billion dollar headlights.

When the gravity of the situation finally comes into focus, it’s all FOR GOD’S SAKE, DO SOMETHING! ANYTHING. ALL THE THINGS! RIGHT NOW, NO YESTERDAY! I ACTUALLY WANTED TO DO SOMETHING EARLIER, BUT, BUT, BUT…

No, it isn’t pretty, and it isn’t sincere, but it’s change. That’s what it looks like when the status quo gets a sucker punch from pent-up reality. It wasn’t going to happen any other way.

It’s easy to become jaded in this age of constant, social media outrage. To start thinking that none of it will ever matter. Because it doesn’t, as long as the levies hold. And then the final drop lands, and all of the sudden everything is different.

This is the social equivalent of an overnight success. The one that actually takes ten years to materialize. Uber’s fall didn’t just happen in 2017, it’s been years in the making. Susan Fowler’s expose was just the tipping point.

The important thing to note here is that we don’t actually need Uber’s board to have an ethical epiphany for things to get better. Do you think that United’s CEO suddenly came to realize the prudence of treating his passengers with a modicum of respect because he saw the light? Come on. United, like Uber hopefully will, changed its policies because they felt no choice.

This is how we improve matters. Once the survival of a company, or at least its reputation, hangs in the balance, all sorts of impossible things suddenly become possible.

Pressure works. Every drip counts. Be a drop.


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