Uber has announced a new “economic empowerment” partnership with UN Women, committing to creating one million jobs for women as drivers by the year 2020.
The announcement was timed to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration, a gender equality resolution adopted by the United Nations in 1995. “We intend to invest in long-term programs in local communities where we live and work,” said UN Women executive director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick in a joint statement. They said their goal is to “work together around the world toward a shared vision of equality and women’s empowerment.”
The organizations were introduced to each other by a third party consultant.
Uber’s reputation with women has been far from stellar, and some see this initiative as merely a PR stunt by Uber. There have been a series of rape allegations against Uber’s drivers, and criticism toward how Uber dealt with these allegations. In the U.S., both female drivers and female passengers have documented stories of harassment by male passengers and drivers, who used various features on Uber to find private details about the women.
THR reached out to Uber to ask how the company plans on accomplishing this goal, as well as what, if any, safety measures they plan on implementing as they work toward hiring more women drivers.
Regarding Uber’s implentation plans, company spokesperson Eva Behrend said the exact plan is still TBD. “We are looking forward to sitting down in the next few weeks with UN Women,” Behrend said, “to discuss the most effective ways we can work with their teams on the ground globally and collaborate on new programs and initiatives over the coming months to help fulfill our commitment of creating 1,000,000 jobs for women as drivers on the Uber platform by 2020.”
Regarding safety measures, Behrend added, “We believe that along with our driver partners we have built the safest transportation option in more than 290 cities around the world. But we will never stop innovating on our safety features, just as we innovate in various other aspects of our business.”
The million jobs would represent an astronomical increase in female employment at the company. According to Behrend, Uber currently employs 160,000 drivers in the United States, only 14% of which are female.
Watch Uber’s video the company released alongside their press release.