A former key sales executive is suing electric vehicle maker Rivian for gender discrimination, alleging the company fostered "a toxic bro culture" that excluded women from the inner circle of decision-making at the highest levels.
In the latest of a string of gender discrimination allegations against major tech and engineering firms, Laura Schwab alleges that a close circle of men around Rivian founder RJ Scaringe prevented her and other female executives from participating in crucial conversations that would allow them to do their jobs. Rivian, one of the few EV automakers gearing up to attempt to seriously compete with Tesla, has been in a quiet period ahead of a planned IPO, which is reportedly scheduled for the week of Nov. 8. Schwab's allegations against the company founder and its leaders mirror recent accusations against Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith. They also closely resemble allegations of similar cultural problems within Activision Blizzard, which is currently facing a California state investigation into gender discrimination.
Schwab, who was hired to create a sales and marketing arm for the company before it started selling its first EVs, said in a blog post and in her lawsuit, which was filed in the Superior Court of California in Orange County, that she was excluded from meetings about sales planning and volume alongside other female executives. She further alleges that she was even unable to schedule individual meetings with her boss, the chief commercial officer at the company.
Schwab alleges that she then brought her concerns to her HR counterpart, and that two days later, in her first meeting in months with the chief commercial officer, was informed that she had been dismissed from the company as part of a reorganization. She said she was the only person asked to leave. "Scaringe was clearly and literally in the driver's seat, and he surrounded himself with a tight knit group of men who constantly had his ear. Many of these men had worked together before or hired one another and had created their own 'boys' club,'" Schwab wrote in her post.
Rivian declined to comment because of its pre-IPO quiet period.