Uber apologises for 'sexist' promotional offer encouraging husbands to give wife 'a day off from the kitchen'

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Ride-sharing organisation Uber has apologised for running a promotion that encouraged husbands to buy takeaway food and "let your wife take a day off from the kitchen".

Just months after the American-based company fired 20 employees and promised to address widespread claims of sexual harassment, social media users accused Uber of sexism in a promotional message sent to customers in Bangalore in southern India.

"Dear husbands, a gentle reminder - today is Wife Appreciation Day," said the promotion for discounts on the company's food delivery service. "Order from uberEATS and let your wife take a day off from the kitchen."

The promotion for UberEats perpetuated sexism in India, social media users said.
The promotion for UberEats perpetuated sexism in India, social media users said.  Photo: Bloomberg

Uber later apologised, tweeting that the message was "totally inappropriate".

"We've removed it, and we apologise," it said.

However, the campaign did not cause much of a stir locally, the BBC reported.

"Most people on Monday did not seem to know about the promo or even the negative impression it is said to have created," BBC journalist Ayeshea Perera said.

"It did not create any impression on social media, and the story is missing from the city's main tabloids and newspapers."

Uber's main competitors in the food delivery market were apps such as Zomato and Swiggy, she said.

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Several Twitter users expressed outrage including Uber's chief brand ambassador, Bozoma Saint John, who wrote: "Oh hell no. This is completely unacceptable. Will take care of this."

Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick was forced to resign in June after a string of controversies.
Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick was forced to resign in June after a string of controversies. Photo: Bloomberg

Uber has previously been criticised for its poor track record on harassment, gender equality and sexism. 

The company recently finished a months-long investigation into reports of sexual harassment and sexism within the company made public in a blog post by former employee Susan Fowler titled One Very, Very strange year at Uber.

​She said her manager sent a message on her first day saying he was in an "open relationship" and "looking for women to have sex with him".

The proportion of female employees dropped from 25 per cent to 6 per cent in her time there, she said.

In June, Uber's chief executive Travis Kalanick took an indefinite leave of absence and more than 20 Uber employees were fired.

The company said it would be taking 47 steps to address a recent string of controversies about its anything-goes, cutthroat corporate culture, including allegations of harassment and inappropriate behaviour.

Fairfax Media