Last week, I was invited by my friends at Uber to join them for an office tour and to (finally!) meet some of their wonderful team members in person. The office: super cool, like stepping on the set of Blade Runner. The energy: lively with a lot of small groups sitting together and talking, rather than rows of individuals just quietly at their desk. The cafeteria (I know some of you would be interested!): lots of options, including those for vegetarian and vegan eaters.
But the day wasn’t just about stepping inside an office building – I was here to learn about Uber’s Asian Heritage Employee Resource Group (ERG). And on this task, I’d like to introduce you to Josh, who is a User Experience Researcher at Uber. Our rapport was easy right off the bat – he reminded me so much of my guy friends in high school. Easy-going, cheerful, humble, thoughtful about how he communicates.
From Josh I learned that the Asian Heritage ERG was born out of a flurry of negative press several years ago about the company. Team members looked around and said to themselves, “this is not the Uber I know it to be – and we should do more to improve it.” They set out to create an environment that celebrates inclusion and all the different cultures that comprise their team members. Efforts could help improve employees’ morale, and it could help drive the business. After all, what makes us better is the fact that we come from different experiences, backgrounds and cultures.
Josh joined the Asian Heritage ERG two years ago (in its early days). He grew up always feeling not quite Asian enough (when he lived in Asia) and not quite American enough (when he lived in California). I knew the feeling – as a kid I was distinctly aware of my mom’s heavy accent and that I looked different from the people celebrated on TV, on Billboards and in magazines. Nowadays, I’m exceptionally proud to be a daughter of immigrant parents and I’m exceptionally proud to be Vietnamese-American.
I think Uber is having this moment now too – and celebrating the fact that the diversity of their team members is a powerful asset and one that they’ve only just begun to tap into. On several occasions, they’ve brought together non-English speaking Uber driver-partners for dim sum in San Francisco and New York. In a job that can feel terribly isolating, Chinese-speaking Uber driver-partners were able to meet and communicate with other driver-partners like them, and also meet Chinese-speaking Uber employees. Hearing their experiences and challenges, Josh and other Uber employees were able to take away so many incredible learnings from the event. What product features can be added to help alleviate some of these issues for their driver-partners? How can they continue to foster communication between their valuable driver-partners? In what other underserved markets does this problem exist?
As a User Experience Researcher, Josh has the innate ability to have empathy. To sit in someone else’s shoes and find solutions to problems that uniquely exist for this person. This is my main takeaway from my lunch & learn: solving all the world’s problems (big or small!) require empathy and empathy starts at home, or in this case, in the workplace. I’m really excited for Uber’s commitment to its employees and excited for this movement to continue across all industries and workplaces.
Thank you Uber for your partnership and for this experience!