Uber Plans To Cut Back On Alcohol At Work To Change Company's Culture

By Britni de la Cretaz 06/16/17

The rideshare company rolled out a new set of company guidelines in hopes of curbing its "bro culture."

person behind the wheel of car displaying cellphone screen with Uber app.

Uber has found itself in hot water over its work culture recently and, in order to try to curb the “bro culture” that dominates its corporate offices, the company plans to cut down on alcohol in the workplace, Business Insider reports.

After former engineer Susan Fowler wrote a blog post detailing the culture of harassment inside the company, Uber commissioned former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate the company culture.

The new guidelines for drinking at work events come as part of a 13-page report which includes 47 different recommendations for changing the company culture. It recommends the company “institute and enforce clear guidelines on alcohol consumption and the use of controlled substances,” including prohibiting drinking and drug use "during core work hours... at work events, or at other work-sponsored events," reducing alcohol at the office, cutting back its alcohol budget for parties, and limiting when the company reimburses managers for alcohol purchased at events that take place outside the office. 

Not only that, the report recommends Uber stop making alcohol the focal point of work parties, as well as encourage work events in which alcohol is not a main factor to “ensure that employees who do not partake in consumption of alcohol still have opportunities to engage in networking and team building activities.”

Finally, the report suggests Uber be sure to take appropriate disciplinary action to address inappropriate employee conduct that happens as a result of alcohol consumption. 

In light of the report, Uber CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick announced that he is taking a leave of absence from the company. In a recently leaked 2013 email sent by Kalanick, he laid out ground rules for a company celebration in Miami that included asking employees not to throw kegs off of buildings, not to get arrested, and instituting a $200 “puke fee.”

Last year, WIRED wrote about the alcohol culture at tech startups, particularly noting how alienating the pervasiveness and expectation of drinking at work and work events can be for people who abstain from drinking.

"I think it's important to look at how a culture treats the people who do drink alcohol," Kara Sowles, a non-drinker who works for the Portland-based startup Puppet, told WIRED. "Whether a culture or company is giving people choices on a day-to-day basis says a lot about how much it respects them."

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Britni de la Cretaz is a freelance writer, baseball enthusiast, and recovered alcoholic living in Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @britnidlc.