The ERG is dedicated to investing in the community to promote professional development and recruiting at Uber.

Navigating through the corporate world can be challenging when there aren’t enough diverse opportunities in which employees can engage. A company’s work environment can make a huge impact on employees’ work ethic, ultimately impacting overall culture of the company.

Employees at Uber took responsibility for shaping the culture of the company and committed to more inclusion by creating the Black at Uber Leadership Council. The goal is to create a community where Black employees and those who hold leadership positions can thrive in the workplace, thus promoting more inclusion and diversity. 

Uber’s senior manager of people development and co-chair for Black at Uber, Dr. Nandi Shareef, spoke with AfroTech about the experience of being a Black woman in leadership at the corporation and with Black at Uber. Recruiting coordinator and lead of Black at Uber, Leah Lester, also joined in on the conversation. 

Both women consider Uber to be a great place to work for people of color because it provides employees a sense of belonging. With Shareef’s role, she builds and designs learning experiences for employees that ensures the company can elevate to the next level as it relates to transformation and transportation. In her role as co-chair for Black at Uber, she advocates for and supports Black employees in the workplace by hearing their viewpoints and making sure they are integrating into the company’s growing culture. 

Lester is the lead of Black at Uber in Phoenix and in the role of recruiting coordinator she is tasked with organizing candidate interviews for all lines of the business. Employee referrals and recruiting are a few ways Uber shows its commitment to driving inclusion.

“We have a diversity and recruiting team, and we have recruiters dedicated to finding candidates from each background and demographic,” said Lester. “They’re making sure diverse professionals are present and getting the same opportunity. We’re putting a focus on making sure that we’re bringing in Black candidates and Hispanic candidates not only for entry level roles but for our executive roles.”

Uber has built its foundation on creating opportunities for all people through its transition of just being a product to becoming a powerful platform, according to Shareef. Both women take pride in actively working towards fulfilling Uber’s mission by making sure they “ignite opportunity by setting the world in motion.” This is being done by providing opportunities for its employees and people across the world who may face challenges and obstacles to get where they want to be. 

Uber has the power of [the] entire platform really pushing us forward,” said Shareef. “But, the key in all of that is that it creates opportunity and it allows people who might normally be stagnant, who actually have challenges or roadblocks in moving forward, to be able to have access to that.”

In terms of Black employees at Uber, Black at Uber is fulfilling the company’s overall objective of creating an inclusive environment and opportunities for team members to be celebrated and recognized. The employee resource group has made progressive steps in 2019 by hosting events to help Black employees succeed in their professional careers and take pride in who they are. Not only does Uber have a principled commitment to diversity but also the communities it serves. Demonstration of inclusion in the community shows up as sponsoring and funding initiatives based on four specific categories. 

Our mission with Black at Uber is to provide a channel that promotes Black diversity, culture and inclusion for all employees at Uber,” said Shareef. “For 2019, our focus has been on careers, culture, commerce and community for Black employees.”

In terms of careers, their goal is to help employees increase confidence, competence, development and growth as it relates to their career paths. Black at Uber addressed these areas by creating a professional development series. Employees were able to take learning and development sessions to learn about their particular career path. Topics included how to get a promotion, how to write a good self review, internal mobility and also discussing the benefits of working for a global company.

“We’ve focused on making sure that we strengthen our experience as well as improving global allyship,” Shareef said. “So we host different cultural events to make sure that we get to celebrate, but also other employees in the company get to experience Black culture.” 

Black at Uber “Dress for Success” event

Black at Uber has hosted a number of events for Black History Month and Juneteenth too. Their UK-based team is planning events for Black History Month set to take place this fall. The organization also hosts a Martin Luther King March in downtown Phoenix every January. The Phoenix team also hosts events to connect with different small businesses and learn how they can continue to make an impact on the community, according to Lester.  Other events include vision board workshops, food drives and more.

Along with cultural events, the group focuses on commerce and business impact from the Black perspective, too. Shareef said the team found it important to go beyond hosting events and provide a space to discuss business ideas and initiatives that benefit Black employees and consumers. 

“One of the things that was really valuable for us as a team was to ensure that, we were not just having events or experiencing what it was like to create belonging for one another,” said Shareef. “We wanted to have business impact, so our goal was to influence key business decisions that are impacting our Black customers and increase our black executive presence so that we can improve business outcomes.”

The Black At Uber Leadership Council was created with a goal to provide those in senior roles the chance to network, learn about their contribution to the company  and also work together to figure out how to increase Black leadership internally. The council meets with the CEO, the chief diversity officer and other executive leaders in the company to discuss how to make business decisions that represents the Black employee population.  

I think the biggest thing that’s important to note is the recognition that we have some challenges around making sure that we recruit diverse talent and recognizing that it’s not just about the challenges — but also the solution,” said Shareef. 

According to her, the Black at Uber council has been a solution to the issue of diversifying the leadership within the company. This solution has come about based on Black at Uber’s connection with outside organizations and industries that helps ensure that Uber is even more diverse and even more inclusive.

Black at Uber considers their biggest achievement to be the creation of the Coalition for Black Excellence Week, founded by member Angela Johnson, who serves as Senior Litigation Counsel at Uber. Coalition for Black Excellence Week takes place during Black History Month and consists of a number of community service events, a professional development conference and a formal gala. During the week, talent within the community are recognized for their accomplishments in their respective fields. 

Lester said being a part of Black at Uber has made a tremendous impact on her personal growth and success. She feels like a great accomplishment of Black at Uber is the ability to bring everybody together, making an impact on the community and also giving employees the feeling that deserve to be there.  

“For the employees here, it’s really just giving people a sense of belonging and giving them the confidence to go for that next role and to go for that next position,” said Lester. “And then to also speak up, use their voice and give their opinion on these big decisions that are happening. I think with all of that, we really retained a lot of good employees and allowed them to want to stay with Uber and grow within Uber.” 

Black at Uber has influenced all of its employees to continue to connect and grow together. By working together, they are laying the framework for future employees of Uber to be exposed to a world of new opportunities.

Interested in learning more about careers at Uber? Learn more by visiting here.  

This piece is brought to you in partnership with Uber.