June 21, 2017

Holder Report Suggests Ombuds for Uber

In his report to the Uber Board of Directors last week, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder recommended the creation of an Ombuds program to improve internal control mechanisms.  The board subsequently adopted all of the recommendations contained in the report.  There are few details about the proposed Ombuds program and there have been no further announcements from the company.  

Here's the relevant portion of the report:

III. Internal Controls
A. Implement Enhancements to the Audit Committee. The Board should take steps to enhance the size, role, and independence of the Audit Committee. The audit committee is generally viewed by private and public companies as a committee that is responsible for overseeing a company’s financial controls, risk management, regulatory compliance, and compliance with a company’s code of conduct. Uber’s Audit Committee could be enhanced through an expansion of the Audit Committee to include more independent directors and a clear articulation of the oversight role that the Audit Committee is intended to play, both of which could improve the Audit Committee’s ability to oversee Uber’s management. Key among the potential roles that the Audit Committee could play is to have a direct reporting line from Uber’s Compliance organization, an appointed ombudsman, and/or Uber’s internal auditor. The purpose of this structure would be to ensure that the person(s) playing those roles will have the ability to bring significant compliance or harassment issues to the attention of the Audit Committee without having to go through management or the CEO. The Audit Committee could also be empowered to oversee a response to any such issues, including a potential investigation, if warranted.
(Holder Report.)

Related post: Huffington Post Blogger: Uber Sexual Harassment Charge Shows Need for Ombuds; Consultants Explain Why an Ombuds Could Have Helped Uber Steer Clear of Sexual Harassment Crisis.

4 comments:

  1. About two months ago I tweeted that Uber needed an Ombuds. I hope it happens - it would be good for that company and, I hope, good for the field.

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    1. I agree, but it may not be great for the ombuds who takes that job!

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    2. Isn't that the point of our work -- being willing to work with a dysfunctional organization?

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  2. We wrote an entire article about this. Hopefully it will happen. It would be great for a high profile company to take on an Ombuds, even if it is reactionary. Maybe it will encourage proactive Ombuds creations.

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