Tesla is bringing in a new leader for its human resources unit. Although the company hasn’t given a specific reason for the change, it comes amidst a flurry of complaints about workplace culture at Tesla’s California factory. Over the past few months, workers have reported an unusually high rate of injuries and incidents at the plant, and have also alleged racial and gender discrimination in lawsuits.
Tesla announced in a blog post yesterday that its HR head, Arnnon Geshuri, will be replaced by Gaby Toledano, a former EA executive. Toledano will be Tesla’s “Chief People Officer” and report directly to Tesla co-founder Elon Musk.
“Arnnon helped transition Tesla from a small car company that many doubted would ever succeed, to an integrated sustainable energy company with more than 30,000 employees around the globe,” Tesla said in a short blog post announcing his departure, adding that he would be taking a “short break” before moving on to an unspecified new project.
Geshuri, who came to Tesla after a six-year stint as a senior recruiter at Google, was charged with leading an aggressive hiring push at the growing auto-maker. As Buzzfeed reports, his departure follows that of two other HR executives — engineering HR lead Jennifer Kim and HR vice president Mark Lipscomb.
Just last week, the Guardian ran a report on Tesla’s alleged treatment of workers at its Fremont, California plant — the same location where, in February, Elon Musk claimed he would “investigate” after allegations of worker mistreatment bubbled up. Besides labour disputes, Tesla has also been hit with several lawsuits from former employees, alleging sexual and racial harassment as well as a discriminatory work environment.
Telsa declined to comment on the HR shakeup beyond its blog post, but Musk acknowledged the allegations of worker mistreatment in an interview for last week’s Guardian report. He said workers have been “having a hard time” but that Tesla is working to reduce its incident rate.
“This is not some situation where, for example, we are just greedy capitalists who decided to skimp on safety in order to have more profits and dividends and that kind of thing. It’s just a question of how much money we lose. And how do we survive? How do we not die and have everyone lose their jobs?” Musk said.
Although Tesla says its injury rates are down so far in 2017, outside observers have questioned whether Tesla’s numbers are correct. Worksafe, a California non-profit that promotes workplace safety, said in a report today that “the injury data Tesla has recorded so far for Q1 of 2017 is too preliminary to be considered accurate”.
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