Amid a litany of accusations about Uber's "bro culture," board member Arianna Huffington has been trying to help turn things around, and she's starting at the top — with CEO Travis Kalanick.
So far, her guidance appears to be having an effect: He's started meditating. Without corporate meditation rooms (yet), Kalanick dipped into an available lactation room to get a few minutes of peace and quiet, she says.
"Literally, it was an amazing moment last week when we were in the office and he said, 'I really need to go meditate in order to be in a place to make good decisions right now,'" says Huffington, speaking at the iCONIC conference in New York City on Wednesday.
"And literally [he] went into a lactation room that happened to be open, because they don't have meditation rooms yet. This is part of the change coming."
The meditation helps Kalanick, Huffington says. "Literally, Travis returned and you could see the change in the way he was and the way he could process making decisions."
With the launch of her new media start-up Thrive Global, media mogul Huffington has become a self-proclaimed evangelist for health and wellness as a necessary requirement for living your best life and running a productive and profitable company.
She told CNBC earlier Wednesday that there will be "restructuring of the management team" at Uber. The tech giant dismissed 20 employees this week after an internal investigation surrounding complaints around discrimination, sexual harassment, bullying and retaliation. The investigation was catalyzed when former Uber engineer Susan Fowler published a tell-all about how the company repeatedly failed to act on her complaints around sexual harassment and gender bias.
"I have been working closely with Travis Kalanick in the transformation at Uber. And Uber is going through a big transformation right now, and it has to start at the top," says Huffington, who joined Uber's board in April 2016.
"So first, Travis started recognizing how differently he made decisions when he had gotten enough sleep. And then he started meditating."
Huffington predicts that increasingly, companies will be motivated to provide space where employees can retreat to refresh.
"I believe every company soon is going to have a meditation slash nap room. They are going to be as common as conference rooms, because people are recognizing the value," says Huffington.
"If you are feeling that you are running on empty, if you are feeling that you are not as productive, why shouldn't your boss want you to go take a 20-minute meditation break or nap break and return recharged? ... This would be another productivity enhancement."
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