CLBR 2017 Hero: Susan Fowler, Uber’s Disruptor

On December 20, CLBR will have our annual year-end Heroes and Zeros episode in which, with guests Brenda Christensen, Denise Howell and Dan Tynan, we highlight those doing wonderful things on the internet and those deserving a cyber lump of coal.  This year, in order to give credit (and shame) where it is due,  I am naming my hero and zero “nominees” individually and today we honor 2017 Hero Susan Fowler.

Fowler, is a writer, engineer, and startup advisor based in the San Francisco Bay Area. While currently working at Stripe as the editor-in-chief of Increment (which Kara Swisher has dubbed “The New Yorker of Silicon Valley”), she previously worked as site reliability engineer at Uber.

In February, she disrupted the ultimate disruptor with her blog post Reflecting On One Very, Very Strange Year At Uber.  Her courageous tale of sexual harassment, sexism and an out of control corporate culture rocked Uber and would lead to a major investigation and the resignation of CEO Travis Kalanick.

Here is just one sample from her first day:

 On my first official day rotating on the team, my new manager sent me a string of messages over company chat. He was in an open relationship, he said, and his girlfriend was having an easy time finding new partners but he wasn’t. He was trying to stay out of trouble at work, he said, but he couldn’t help getting in trouble, because he was looking for women to have sex with. It was clear that he was trying to get me to have sex with him, and it was so clearly out of line that I immediately took screenshots of these chat messages and reported him to HR.

. . . When I reported the situation, I was told by both HR and upper management that even though this was clearly sexual harassment and he was propositioning me, it was this man’s first offense, and that they wouldn’t feel comfortable giving him anything other than a warning and a stern talking-to. . . . I was then told that I had to make a choice: (i) I could either go and find another team and then never have to interact with this man again, or (ii) I could stay on the team, but I would have to understand that he would most likely give me a poor performance review when review time came around, and there was nothing they could do about that.

You can follow Fowler at her website or on Twitter @susanthesquark.

Annual Heroes and Zeros Show

Listen on Wednesday, December 20th at 1PM ET / 10AM PT on as I discuss the Heroes and Zeros for 2017 with our special guests – Brenda Christensen, Denise Howell and Dan Tynan.

the judges


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