Arianna Huffington on Uber's new culture: 'We do the right thing. Period'

Arianna Huffington
David A. Grogan | CNBC

After a tumultuous year that saw a major sexism scandal and founder Travis Kalanick resign as CEO, Uber released new "cultural norms" last week.

Media mogul Arianna Huffington, who joined the ride-sharing service's board of directors in 2016, thinks it's a step in the right direction.

Huffington has spearheaded efforts to revamp Uber's image, pushing for changes like management training and better relationships with drivers. Her main focus going forward is changing the tech start-up's culture at its core.

At a recent Fuel List event hosted by Huffington's wellness site Thrive Global and food company Quaker Oats, Huffington told CNBC Make It that the company's new motto can be "summed up" in one key phrase: "We do the right thing. Period."

This catch-all slogan underscores internally and externally that Uber is committed to integrity at all levels of the company. In an interview with CNBC, Huffington says it's important that Uber's 65 million riders love the brand and the company just as much as they love the product.

In a recent LinkedIn post, Uber's new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi released the full list of the car service's new cultural norms:

1. We build globally, we live locally.

2. We are customer obsessed.

3. We celebrate differences.

4. We do the right thing.

5. We act like owners.

6. We persevere.

7. We value ideas over hierarchy.

8. We make big bold bets.

The CEO admits, in the blog entry, that Uber's current culture must evolve in order to get the company to the "next level."

"Rather than ditching everything," Khosrowshahi writes, "I'm focused on preserving what works while quickly changing what doesn't."

Arianna Huffington surrounded by The Fuel List honorees on Wednesday November 8, 2017.
Gary He

The latest cultural guidelines will replace Uber's previous values, which included "always be hustlin'," "meritocracy and toe-stepping," and "principled confrontation."

In an interview during New York Advertising Week, Huffington described corporate culture as "a company's immune system."

"Ultimately, your health depends on your immune system," she said.

Plagued by past criticism, Uber has already taken steps to transform its culture into one that focuses on the company's newest set of values.

The company has started to implement interview training to make its process more inclusive for women and has also promised to increase recruitment of top talent from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs).

Earlier this year, Uber pledged $3 million to support organizations working to promote diversity in tech and invested $1.2 million in Girls Who Code.

In June, the company announced that it had hired two women to join the leadership team, and in August, Uber's board members chose former Expedia CEO Khosrowshahi as the new CEO.

Dara Khosrowshahi speaks onstage at The New York Times 2017 DealBook Conference.
Michael Cohen/The New York Times | Getty Images

Huffington notes that Uber's cultural transformation has taken on renewed speed under Khosrowshahi. "He has been a great CEO who has been bringing about many needed changes," says Huffington.

"Creating a culture which definitely is about big, bold bets, but also about responsible growth is something which is really happening in the company now," she adds. "And I'm really excited to be part of it."

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See also:

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