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Uber just lost a powerful diversity ally

Anita Borg Institute cuts ties with Uber

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) - Uber just lost a powerful ally for getting more women into its workforce.

The Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology confirmed that it has cut ties with Uber over high profile allegations of sexism at the company.

"We felt compelled to take action in light of the many serious accusations Uber faces regarding the treatment of women employees," the organization wrote in a blog post.

The Anita Borg Institute, founded in 1997, is the organization behind the annual Grace Hopper Conference, the largest gathering of women in computing that takes place every fall. It has partnered with more than 70 companies which it works with on recruiting practices, keeping women in tech, and creating an inclusive workforce.

In 2015, Uber became a partner, despite some reservations on the part of the Anita Borg Institute, which said it "had concerns about the company's reputation."

But Uber's reputation has taken a turn for the worse.

In February, the company was hit with sexual harassment claims from a former engineer. In a lengthy blog post, the woman accused the company of systemic sexism that included being propositioned for sex. CEO Travis Kalanick hired former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Tammy Albarran, both partners at law firm Covington & Burling, to conduct an investigation into its workforce. The report is expected to wrap up this month.

A source close to Uber said the company was "very surprised to hear [ABI] was ending the partnership."

The source told CNN Tech that Uber had been in close communication with ABI in recent months and that the company is "more committed than ever" to diversity.

"We are working hard to transform our culture to support women engineers at Uber, to foster their growth and to attract more women in technical roles," Komal Mangtani, senior engineering leadership at Uber, said in a statement. "We have received a lot of support from ABI thus far and we have participated in successful Grace Hopper events in the past. We know we have a lot of work ahead of us and while were surprised to hear of this development, we're committed to continuing the conversation with ABI."

In March, Uber released its first diversity report, revealing that just 15% of its technical workers are women. 22% of Uber's overall leadership positions are held by women, but just half of those are in technical roles.

ABI's ending of the partnership, first reported by Recode, is an unusual step for the organization. But Anita Borg Institute CEO Telle Whitney hinted that Uber might not have been doing enough. "We require our partners to take action to improve the retention and advancement of women technologists," Whitney told CNN Tech in an email.

As for whether it will reconsider working with Uber in the future?

"As we advocate on behalf of women technologists, we will always continue to maintain an open dialogue with all the organizations where they work, including Uber," she added.


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