Earlier this month, Blouin News analyzed what a partnership between U.N. Women and controversial ride-sharing app Uber would look like. But in an unanticipated announcement on Friday, the U.N. rescinded its original promise to collaborate with the company to bring 1,000,000 jobs to women by 2020.
It looks as though the combination of sexist comments made by Uber executives over the last year, coupled with the company’s failure to properly address the rape and sexual assault allegations in Boston and Delhi, have deterred the U.N. from any future collaboration. The partnership was also heavily criticized by trade unions who called out Uber for its unsafe practices and lack of background checks on its drivers. Bloomberg quotes Nanette Braun, a spokeswoman for U.N. Women, on the failed partnership: “U.N. Women is grateful for Uber’s generous support to this event, and encourage Uber to continue its efforts to promote gender equality. At this point, we do not plan to expand the collaboration.”
The ride service had used the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration for women’s rights on March 10 to announce its dedication to creating “safe and equitable earning opportunities” for women. Now, the U.N.’s formal backpedaling on a widely publicized project is a big step back for a company already in the dog house for its sexist practices. In a speech at the Commission on the Status of Women conference at the U.N. headquarters in New York on March 20, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of U.N. Women, addressed critics of the partnership:
“Not only are we listening, we are aligned. And I also want to assure you that U.N. Women will not accept an offer to collaborate with job creation with Uber, so you can rest assured about that.”
At this point, what would have been a solid project — one that might have improved Uber’s image somewhat — now serves to only dig its brand further into the hole.
Despite all this, the company is still doing well financially, very well, in fact. It is valued at $40 billion, and continues to raise funds — something it has done consistently since its founding in 2010. The service also continues to expand into more markets despite being banned in certain countries and struggling in others. Considering Uber’s mixed bag of extremely negative publicity and huge monetary success, the company’s continued expansion will be one to watch.