With about 36,000 drivers currently positioned in the New York City area, Uber has grown its vehicle presence by roughly 260% over the span of just one year. However, despite their remarkable success and lead in the independent transportation service industry, is Uber truly immune from public opinion while dealing with sensitive ethical issues?
In the hours leading to the Muslim Ban protest at JFK International Airport, the New York Taxi Workers Alliance released a statement outlining the fear and disgust they have for the “unconstitutional” and “inhumane” executive order president Trump recently put into effect. The statement dove deep into issues pertaining to Islamophobia and the potential increase in hate crimes while calling for their 19,000 member-strong union to stand firmly in opposition of Trump and in solidarity with refugees coming into The United States.
In an attempt to send a glaring message of disapproval, the protest did not stop Uber from providing services to and from the airport during the exact time of the event. In addition, Uber even halted their surge fares that usually kick in during periods of increased demand. These actions were instantly met with Uber users deleting the app and speaking out against the company (including a “delete Uber” hashtag) because of the lack of support for the movement.
While trying to assess the damage by stating, “we’re sorry for any confusion about our earlier tweet — it was not meant to break up any strike”, Uber definitely noticed their poor judgment and what people can perceive as a lack of empathy. CEO Travis Kalanick even sent out an email to their employees announcing a plan to help provide lawyers and immigration experts to drivers who are affected by the travel ban including a $3 million legal defense fund.
Although you can argue Uber is simply a business driven by personal interests and generally making profits and should not be concerned about public opinion. It’s interesting to think about the amount of effect stakeholders have on shaping the image and direction of the company.
Lutz, Ashley. “Furious customers are deleting the Uber app after drivers went to JFK airport during a protest and strike.” Business Insider. Business Insider, 29 Jan. 2017. Web. 09 Feb. 2017.