Disruption and Corruption. How Uber Expanded its Empire.
This week, news of the massive transportation provider, Uber’s, company-wide misconduct broke. In files obtained by news outlets, shocking claims of spying on government officials, dodging local laws, avoiding tax payments, attacks on the taxi industry and labor activists, executive mistreatment, and violence towards their very own employees, spilled out at an alarming rate. This laundry list of misconduct has everyone questioning everything.
Uber was once a revolutionary concept. A startup based out of San Francisco, it’s only 13 years old and yet – has achieved worldwide domination. On the outside, Uber’s development is a representation of every startup’s dreams.
But in reality, the Uber Files show the risks organizations encounter as they grow, facing an additional level of vulnerability as they expand to other geographies. Expansion, especially into an under-developed market, often involves going against established practices. This is innovation at its core – but that innovation can lead to overstepping boundaries in the blink of an eye.
Start-ups may suddenly find themselves working with local stakeholders in the community, and even public officials, as they attempt to secure collective buy-in. This work involves educating the public about the potential of the new product or service, and then further advocating for changes in local, federal, and even global, regulations to allow these operations in the first place.
Backing the value of your services and believing strongly in your mission can bring any person to cross some lines. This means questionable lobbying and corrupt practices can occur, whether that be intentionally or unintentionally, all in the name of progress. Entering new markets with entrenched competition is challenging anywhere, especially as business owners feel the pressure to creatively obtain and maintain advantageous relationships.
We know none of us set out to engage in misconduct. Unethical behavior can happen quickly, with just one split-second decision, usually made out of a desire for success. But even so, all revolutionary ideas need an ethics advisor, integrating integrity at every single level of business growth. Set your company apart by valuing a human-first approach.