Uber's first-ever head of diversity has left the company

Megan Rose Dickey

Bernard Coleman, Uber's first-ever head of diversity, has left the company, TechCrunch has learned. His last day was Friday, January 17.

"Bernard's contributions over the years helped make Uber a more inclusive and diverse company and we wish him all the best," an Uber spokesperson told TechCrunch.

Coleman's next stop is payroll startup Gusto, where he is leading the employee engagement team within the People Operations organization. Coleman wasn't necessarily looking for a new job, but the opportunity simply presented itself, he told TechCrunch.

"It's the place I wanted to go that I didn't yet know," he said.

What attracted him to Gusto is the service-oriented nature of the company. Gusto is designed to help small businesses with everything from payroll to benefits to human resources to time-tracking tools.

"This ties back to my campaign days of serving underserved populations," Coleman, who led Hillary for America's diversity and human resources initiatives, said. "To have the opportunity to serve them and the opportunity to do it right has a personal alignment to me."

Coleman should be in good company, as Gusto is the startup Google's now-former Chief Diversity Officer Danielle Brown joined in April 2019.

"Danielle was a big draw," Coleman said. "I always wanted to work with her, and I'm excited to have this opportunity."

Coleman joined Uber in January 2017, about one month before Uber engineer Susan Fowler published her blog post detailing issues of sexual harassment and other workplace issues. A couple of months after joining, Uber released its first diversity report.

Uber, like many other tech companies, is predominantly white (44.7 percent) and Asian (33 percent), according to its most recent diversity report. In 2019, Uber was 9.3 percent black and 8.3 percent Latinx compared to just 8.1 percent black and 6.1 percent Latinx in 2018. Gusto, on the other hand, has not publicly released a diversity report.

When Uber hired Bo Young Lee to serve as its chief diversity officer, it came as a bit of a surprise. That's because former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and his law firm recommended Uber promote Coleman to CDO in light of its sexual harassment investigation. Coleman declined to comment on that specifically but said there are lessons learned from Uber that he can apply to Gusto.

"I think everything is instructive for what you're trying to do," he said. "When you compare Uber to Gusto, [Gusto] is much smaller comparatively. I can think about where to plug in and be more impactful at this growth stage. We have the right elements to really do it in a way that has not been done in tech."

For Uber, the company is not without a diversity and inclusion department. Lee is still at the helm, and the company has also recently brought on Diane Krieman to serve as head of diversity and inclusion strategy and planning.