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Uber has hired its first chief diversity officer

Bo Young Lee will be filling a role the Holder Report recommended that Uber create.

Uber sign outside its office building Smith Collection / Gado / Getty Images

Uber has been on a C-suite hiring spree. Now the embattled ride-hail company has hired Bo Young Lee to be its first-ever chief diversity and inclusion officer, sources familiar told Recode.

Uber confirmed that Lee would be starting in her new role in March.

Lee’s hire — the third executive appointment under newly minted CEO Dara Khosrowshahi following chief legal officer Tony West and chief operating officer Barney Harford — is an important one for the company as it attempts to refurbish its image and address the many issues first brought to light by Susan Fowler’s essay in February 2017.

After Fowler published her essay, Uber hired former U.S. attorney general Eric Holder and his partner, Tammy Albarran, to conduct an investigation into the company’s culture. Following the investigation, the law firm recommended — among other things — that the ride-hail company promote its current global head of diversity, Bernard Coleman, by elevating him to a new, more senior role of chief diversity officer. The Holder report also recommended that Coleman report directly to the company CEO and COO.

The Holder recommendations read:

“An empowered senior leader who is responsible for diversity and inclusion is key to the integrity of Uber’s efforts. Uber should elevate the visibility of the current Head of Diversity, Bernard Coleman, and emphasize the outreach component of Mr.Coleman’s position.”

“In addition, the position should be renamed the “Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer,” and the position should report directly to the CEO or the COO. This action is intended to reflect the elevated status of this role and demonstrate the company’s commitment to this issue.”

However, while the board voted unanimously to implement the Holder recommendations, the company kept its options open with regard to whether to promote Coleman or bring in an outside hire.

Additionally, Lee, who was the global diversity and inclusion officer at financial services firm Marsh, will not be reporting directly to Khosrowshahi and Harford; she will report to Uber’s chief human resources officer, Liane Hornsey, for the time being.

Bo Young Lee

As she gets settled, Uber spokesperson Momo Zhou told Recode, the company will determine if she will continue to report to Hornsey or report directly to Khosrowshahi as the Holder report recommends. Coleman, in turn, will be reporting to Lee, though his role still needs to be more clearly defined.

“We will be real partners in a lot of this work,” Lee, who is based in New York, said. “Bernard and I have had some conversations about what his role will be.”

In years past, Uber declined to share its diversity numbers publicly. But since Fowler’s accusations of sexism at the company, the ride-hail player has made a more public effort to be more transparent and increase diversity, including donating a $1.2 million grant to Girls Who Code — although that move was not without controversy.

With an eye toward taking the company public in 2019, Khosrowshahi is working quickly to right the ship at Uber. That, in part, includes filling critical executive roles. The company, however, has yet to hire a new chief financial officer, a position left vacant since 2015.

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