Uber has announced plans to create one million jobs for women as drivers by 2020, as it looks to bounce back from negative publicity received in recent months.
The taxi app company has partnered with the United Nations to accelerate economic opportunities for women and help them to become more independent. UN Women executive director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick said they are working towards a shared vision of equality and female empowerment.
In the past, the tech startup has been accused of having a “frat culture”, and recently came under fire for an advertising campaign branded sexist by its critics. In October, Uber France was forced to apologise after it offered customers in Lyon a free 20-minute ride around the city with an “incredibly hot chick” at the wheel. Photos of women in lingerie appeared on the app for customers to choose from. This was later cancelled after a social media backlash.
Sarah Lacy, editor of the tech blog PandaDaily, is a persistent critic of Uber and has repeatedly accused it of being offensive in its treatment of women.
“This sexism and misogyny is something different and scary. Women drive Ubers and ride in them. I don’t know how many more signals we need that the company simply doesn’t respect us or prioritise our safety,” Lacy wrote towards the end of last year.
Uber has rapidly expanded since it was founded in San Francisco in 2009 and is now available in almost 300 cities in 55 countries. It has said it is co-operating with authorities over an alleged rape committed by an Uber driver in India last year.
“In the US about 14 per cent of our driver partners are women,” said Uber spokesman Harry Porter.