In April last year I wrote a post about Uber hiring Bo Young Lee, an Asian lady who started her professional life as an Accenture consultant and thereafter spent 15 years working in diversity-related positions, in the new role of Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer. I suspect she’s had a strong hand in this:
As an asexual, Vietnamese-American, Heather is a force to be reckoned with on and off the road. When she’s not driving, Heather spends her time pursuing an acting career with the interest in bringing stories of powerful women to light.
I think this Twitter user puts it best:
Just drive Heather. 1 star.
— 🌈Fancy Pants🌈 (@YourOldMateJay) June 6, 2019
There’s a whole page of this stuff, with each employee carefully placed in their little sexual identity box in front of the corresponding flag (it seems this heads-up and subsequent post came just in the nick of time).
Simply by sharing her story with us, Heather is already inspiring others. “I think I’ve always identified as asexual. Even when I was little. Because my crushes on people are usually aesthetic attraction, attraction to people’s personality, kindness or intelligence. But never sexual,” Heather said.
Uber’s Diversity & Inclusion department have handpicked Heather for special mention because she’s discovered this thing called friendship.
Whether about her race or sexuality, Heather makes an effort to change the way we communicate. “I think we could alter the language we use in our conversations with others. Ask people questions in a way that doesn’t imply something.” With her family and friends by her side, Heather’s unique view is empowering so many others.
Her view about as unique as a portrait of the Kims in a North Korean army base.
From an early age, Dom knew she was different from her friends. And in some ways, that may have made coming out a little easier, because many of her friends and family had already been suspecting.
But does she refrain from cancelling your trip when you’ve been waiting 40 minutes and the app says she’s now just 2 minutes away?
“I’m what people think a lesbian would look like. But I can see how that diminishes and erases half of a community,” Dom explained.
“Explained” is a little generous here, I feel.
As opposed to the pink shades of the lesbian flag, Dom more closely identifies with the rainbow flag. “What I like about the flag, is that it’s not unique to one identity. It reminds us that everybody has been in a similar situation in the past, and knowing that sort of ties us together in a community,” she elaborated.
This sounds awfully conservative. Are we sure she’s not a Trump supporter?
Now living with her fiancée in San Francisco, Dom defines success as being comfortable with who you are and living your personal truth. “You can’t measure yourself or your success against anyone else. If you can do that, the people who love you will be there.”
In the days of traditional cabs you ran the risk of a driver who’d rant about blacks taking over and would take you from Tower Hill to Soho via Thurso. Nowadays, thanks to technology, you get an Uber driver who shares their high-school intersectional philosophy with you.
With support from the Uber community, Lana found the courage to come out a second time as transgender. “It always felt disingenuous to wave around the rainbow flag because it’s largely been controlled by the gay man. The trans flag was at first a rejection of that. I like seeing the trans flag with all of the other flags. It shows we’re evolving,” Lana explains.
They’re really taking this flag stuff seriously, aren’t they? How long before factional rivalries spill over and “capture the flag” games start?
Though challenging at times, Lana’s journey has made her the activist she is today and she now stands with immense Pride. As one of the first people to openly transition at Uber, Lana pioneered the updated community guidelines for transgender employees and allies.
So Bo Young Lee delegated the writing of HR guidelines governing workplace behaviour to a trans-activist employee? What could go wrong?
Originally from Jamaica, Francois is currently a model and Uber driver-partner in New York City. “A lot of LGBTQIA+ people drive for Uber in New York City because it’s so hard to find employment where you’re actually accepted for who you are,” Francois explained.
I suspect the “who you are” in this context is more about your skills, experience, and immigration status than your sexual preferences, but it’s a neat conflation.
Identifying as genderqueer, Francois has felt misunderstood in the past. “People don’t get that being Genderqueer isn’t about me being able to wear a skirt and a dress. I have to think about all the different nuances of myself; my masculinity and my femininity. It’s not about cross-dressing, it’s about expressing who I am,” Francois said.
Does anyone else detect the strong whiff of narcissism which is common to all these profiles?
Francois feels that the genderqueer community is often misunderstood, and he encourages people to stop being shy and start asking questions.
Here’s mine: don’t you think it’s a little sad that your entire identity is wrapped up in your sexual preferences to the exclusion of everything else?
With the freedom to explore, Jacob now identifies as polysexual. “I’m attracted to a deep personal bond, I want to get to know who someone is as a person before I’m with them,” he explains.
As opposed to the rest of society which presumably gets married following a one-night stand.
Today, Trevor feels more empowered to identify as non-binary. “Some days I present as male, some days I present as more female.” For Trevor, discovering the non-binary flag was liberating. It meant representation, validation, and a place within the LGBTQIA+ community.
Does it now? In unrelated news:
On an operating basis, Uber losses widened to over $1 billion in Q1, up from a loss of $478 million in 2018.
It underscored the central challenge the company faces: Like other big tech companies going public this year, Uber has no immediate path to making money in a fiercely competitive sector.
Uber’s stock sank immediately after it debuted on the New York Stock Exchange on May 10, at the low end of its initial public offering range.
Now I’ve almost finished my MBA I think I can see the root cause of Uber’s financial difficulties: there is no polyamorous employee featured in their Pride page, and no polyamory flag. From now on I’m using Lyft, bigots!