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Tom Fox: Former Uber engineer wrote 2017’s top blog post (so far)

As we near the year’s halfway point, I want to get in an early nomination for 2017’s Best and Most Important Blog Post. It was written by Susan Fowler, a one-time engineer at Uber who blogged about the sexual harassment and discriminations she experienced there.

It was Fowler’s blog post which led the downfall of the now former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick.

How significant was Fowler’s blog post in Kalanick’s departure and the company’s changing its cultural malaise?

Consider the first sentence of the Holder Report to the company’s Board of Directors:

On February 19, 2017, Susan Fowler, a former engineer at Uber Technologies, Inc. (“Uber”), published a blog post detailing allegations of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation during her employment at Uber, and the ineffectiveness of the company’s then-existing policies and procedures. The next day, Uber retained Eric Holder and Tammy Albarrán, partners at the law firm Covington & Burling LLP (“Covington”), to conduct a thorough and objective review regarding “the specific issues relating to the work place environment raised by Susan Fowler, as well as diversity and inclusion at Uber more broadly.”

Such is the power of one blog post.

Many companies fear seeing a negative report on the front page of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal or Financial Times. However, how many are prepared for the fallout from a single blog post?

Just as Twitter, Snapchat and Pinterest have significantly alter the world of social media and the speed of news, blogging and podcasting can cause a significant impact to a company with underlying problems which have been swept under the rug.

The toxic culture had existed at Uber for some time but it took on blog post by one writer to lead to potential change.

To my fellow bloggers, Fowler has set a very high bar for the significance of blog posts.

I can hardly wait to see what the second half of 2017 brings to the world of blogging.  

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Tom Fox is a Contributing Editor of the FCPA Blog. He has practiced law in Houston for 30 years. He’s the creator of the award winning FCPA Compliance and Ethics website. He is the Compliance Evangelist.  His best-selling seminal book, “Best Practices Under the FCPA and Bribery Act: How to Create a First Class Compliance Program” (available from Amazon here) is widely viewed as one of the top volumes on the nuts and bolts of compliance. His latest book is 2016 – The Year in Corporate FCPA Enforcement.

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1 Comment

  1. Blogging has moved from the singular universe of "me" to one of "we" — to explain how what happened to me could affect you. How we're all linked together.

    Nice post, Tom. Thank you.


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