By on November 5, 2021

Rivian

Start-up EV automaker Rivian has been accused by a former employee of having a “boys club” atmosphere while she worked there.

Laura Schwab, who was in charge of sales and marketing, claims the company has a “toxic bro culture” that led to mistakes being made, and when she pointed it out, she was fired.

Schwab, who was once the first female president in Aston Martin’s history and has over 20 years of industry experience, said she and other women were left out of key meetings that they should’ve been part of and says her boss virtually ignored her, going months without a one-on-one meeting.

The whole thing can be read on her Medium page.

Schwab has apparently filed suit in Orange County, California, as well as filing a claim with the American Arbitration Association.

We’ve reached out to Rivian for comment and will update when they respond. We might not hear back, though — Rivian told TechCrunch that it can’t comment during the quiet period ahead of its IPO.

[Image: Rivian]

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51 Comments on “Rivian Accused of ‘Boys Club’ Culture by Ex-Exec...”


  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    The 1st rule of “Boys Club” , Don’t talk about Boys Club” or something like that.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Perhaps some of the female members of the B&B can comment. Oh.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Her account sounds pretty crappy.

    Nothing good will come of this for Rivian, and, regardless of the merits of her story, she will be marked as an activist by potential employers.

    The timing just days ahead of RIVN going public is a bit suspicious, however. Maybe the court can sort it out, but I suspect the truth will be hard to determine.

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      Her account sounds plausible to me. And if it’s true, then there are at least 2 other female execs at Rivian who know it’s true. The details are so obnoxious, specifically work-related, discoverable, and verifiable, that I don’t think I would even try to make it up. Who would believe that two of the senior executive team were excluded from meetings that specifically involved their area of function? It’s so absurd and idiotic, I think it is most likely true.

      The timing may be deliberate, yes. Sounds like something a good attorney would do for leverage. Doesn’t make the allegations true or untrue.

      • 0 avatar
        bullnuke

        Her account of the issue likely was thoroughly edited and edited by her lawyers prior to publication for plausibility. “Toxic bro culture” is a guaranteed buzz-phrase to elicit sympathy and anger and great for a nightly news sound bite. Maybe true, maybe not, maybe somewhere between – it is probably wise to sit this one out until something concrete is disclosed.

  • avatar

    My theory is that someone paid her to cancel Rivian. Was it GM or Ford or VW?

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    Feel free to start your own car company, Ms. Schwab. I’m sure it will be wonderful.

  • avatar
    Ol Shel

    The broads are already making 82 cents on the dollar. If we don’t stand up to ’em now, pretty soon they’ll want to vote…

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      May be they should quit working. They must go back to raising children. Working women means depopulating. End of species.

      • 0 avatar
        N8iveVA

        “May be they should quit working. They must go back to raising children. Working women means depopulating. End of species.”

        Considering women haven been in the workforce for quite some time and yet the population continues to grow excessively.

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          N8iveVA

          WRONG!! Where is my bald font?

          Western world, Japan, all developed countries where women earn income DO NOT REPRODUCE

          To grow you need 2.3 birth per productive woman. To stay even – 2.2

          some examples

          S. Korea – 0.9
          USA, Czech republic, Sweden, China – 1.7
          Japan – 1.4
          Italy – 1.4

          Argentina, Peru, India – 2.2

          Israel – 3.0 (many religious people, Jews and Muslims)

          Egypt – 3.3
          Sudan, Togo, Congo – 4.3

          Its the poor countries where women don’t go to work, that reproduce. US population grows ONLY due to immigration.

          • 0 avatar
            ToolGuy

            @slavuta,

            “Where is my bald font?”

            I am 100% confident that I never want to see your bald font (or hear about it again). Please put it away.

      • 0 avatar
        JD-Shifty

        the world is already overpopulated, what are you babbling about?

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          @JD-Shifty – he’s one of those “we gotta breed like rabbits to stop immigration” types. You know, can’t let the ethnic impure “replace us”.

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          World is over populated? No, world is not over populated. It is China, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Pakistan, etc. overpopulated

          And what US does by allowing millions to come here? They promote more overpopulation. Because all the excess can always be flushed into US.

          Russia is not over populated. They have 145 millions and the largest land mass. Plenty of space. If US farmers stop shipping food into places, they will have nothing to eat and will not give birth.

          The good news is, in US, agnostic, non religious people birth rate is 1.7. Catholics/Jews 2.0, Orthodox Jews 3.8, Mormons 3.7. Religious Christians 2.5. In other words, given time, progressives will die out, Christians will overtake.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    My brain cells are fair used up. Now this Rivian outfit, which one of the EV start-ups be they?

    So I looked it up to refresh what’s left of the old grey cells. Oh yeah, they’re the ones making something or other in the old Diamond Star Motors plant in Normal IL. Never been there, but that’s where my ’90 Eagle Talon TSi AWD turbo came from.

    But, Normal being in the snow belt, our crew of self-styled brilliant execs decided, hey! Californy is the place to be and situate Head Office. Taco truck Central, zephyr breezes and wildfire smoke, I mean what’s not to like?

    For those bored execs with a craving for a spot of world travel and long vacays on the investor’s dime, it seems Rivian has established outposts in the underdeveloped world. I quote from that well-known fount of all knowledge, bad spelling, excruciatingly poor grammar and overly long Australian-authored entries on Japanese car models that sold well into the dozens of units while leaving US market models to the ignominy of the odd paragraph here and there, Wikipedia, currently on a drive to extract $2.75 from me to read its blessed pages:

    “Rivian is based in Irvine, California with its manufacturing plant in Normal, Illinois, and other facilities in Palo Alto, Californy; Carson, California; Plymouth; Michigan, Vancouver BC and Woking, England.” These other facilities have been rumoured to produce K-Cup coffee abominations, but I personally find that hard to believe.

    I remind readers, apropos of nothing at all, that Carson CA was once a silver mining town, but has since become a hub of EV technology like the latest in orange-jacketed wiring. Vancouver BC is a hotbed of nothing but itself, but Woking, well now, that one is the key! McLaren Cars is located in Woking, and from a rented one-bedroom suite in a local hotel, Rivian operatives have been keeping up with the latest tech with a pair of binoculars mounted on a tripod. Information really began flowing when they managed to score a room actually facing the factory and on the sixth instead of ground floor. That’s when the motor in wheel hub idea hit them like a ton of bricks, though not from Mclaren, but from the local milk floats, home delivery by little EV carts accompanied by the sound of thousands of clanking bottles at 5:45 am local time. That woke them up to the possibilities.

    In the technology-fueled hotbed of advanced engineering like using a battery and an elecric motor — so beloved of 1899 state-of-the-art vehicle designers, taking a leaf out of the by then 20 year-old electric streetcar industry, modern investor-savvy technocrats have succeeded in fooling the modern public and well-educated Wall Street pundits into believing fundamental advances in science and engineering have sprouted from the incredible minds of 21st century geniuses. Prophet Elon Musk proved you can fool most of the people most of the time with EVs, so you can understand the mindset of the Rivian brainstormers in following the same template. It sure beat their first commercial idea: A 20 foot carbon-fiber replica birch-bark canoe with standard GPS in every home! And a lake in every town, of course, the famously notorious SuperPond Network.

    As to their HR gender policies versus the reality of hard-headed business folderol, I can hardly comment. Other than to say, Aston Martin is not McLaren.

    • 0 avatar
      ravenuer

      So Elon Musk is fooling us? What, pray tell, was the range of your 1899 state-of-the-art electric car? And how might that compare to a Tesla?

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      @conundrum: “That’s when the motor in wheel hub idea hit them”
      Rivian uses inboard motors. Not hub motors.

      “McLaren Cars is located in Woking, and from a rented one-bedroom suite in a local hotel,”
      The only McLaren facility that I know of in Woking in range of a six story hotel is McLaren Applied and there is a 6 story car park between it and the Doubletree Hilton. The rest is in Woking Business Park with the factory out in the countryside. Besides, who in their right mind would try to steal EV technology from a company that’s only managed to product a plug-in hybrid car? What’s the color of the boathouse roof at Hereford?

      “My brain cells are fair used up”
      Yeah, I think I know how that happened.

  • avatar
    jalop1991

    she’s trying her case through a blog?

    Jesus Christ. What a loser.

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      I think it’s better than saying nothing and just letting the bad actors win. That situation affects people’s jobs and families. Imagine if your sister or daughter took that job, moved across the country to work there, and then found out that the people over and around her just expected her to be a diversity checkmark. That could really mess someone’s situation up for a while.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        You get what you paid for. NASDAQ wants LGBT board members. They will get them. Something like, no-vote members. Ideology never stopped inventiveness.
        I remember how in USSR the party did not want people to read the banned books. So, people created a system where several people would tear a book into parts, replicate these parts in several copies on typewriter and then assemble several books. Then they would pass those to be replicated over and over again.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    She should go to Tesla. They have a female Chairperson.

  • avatar
    vetes

    Another sad story. It sounds similar in ways to the so-called Facebook “whistle blower” who wanted to censor certain people and was paraded in front of congress because they wanted to censor the same as some in congress do. And, they wanted a government job to do it. Similar in the way that there is more than one side to every story and conveniently fits a narrative that can be exploited. Sometimes people act as blockers to business initiatives or cannot handle that they could not sell their ideas to others. There are ways that this can be improved. Going nuclear probably doesn’t help. But, if you want a government or activist funded job, this is a way to get there.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      When you said “censor certain people”, you meant “allow liars to gain a large audience”.

      That confusion is why you can’t make sense of what’s happening here.

      • 0 avatar
        vetes

        Or is it that you only like certain liars? Those who define a lie in the same way as yourself? Or so you think and cannot fathom how someone might think differently because only you know the “truth”. It’s all BS.

        • 0 avatar
          Luke42

          The usual way to detect liars is to check multiple sources against each others, and weigh the credibility of each source.

          It’s like flying an airplane on instruments — you cross-check everything in case one of the instruments is broken.

          A lot of my least favorite news sources has a popular pundit who just makes up lies as he goes and his audience acts as if those fictions are facts.

          It’s obvious what he’s doing if you check his facts against a wide variety of credible sources, but most of his viewers never do.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @Luke42 Human nature is such that we don’t search for the truth. We are hardwired to search for validation. That’s why most stop hunting once they hear what they want to hear. That’s why social media is extremely dangerous and many politicians or ex-politicians are dangerous.
            I was told years ago that there are always 3 versions of an event: your’s, their’s, and what actually happened.
            You nailed it. Search multiple sources and weigh the credibility. One caveat though- credibility isn’t based upon hearing what you want to hear.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Oh, those poor, downtrodden folks who wanted to spread conspiracy BS on Facebook but were told “no.” It’s almost like Facebook is a proprietary site, owned by a company and has every right to tell people they can and can’t post there. It’s almost like Facebook is like a shopping mall that doesn’t allow people to walk around shouting conspiracy theories at the other shoppers.

      Even more to the point, it’s almost like Facebook is private property, just like your front lawn is, and has every right to boot people off it, just like you do.

      Next thing you know, it’s Kristallnacht.

      If the conspiracy loons want to spread their bulls**t, then they have every right to do so, just like the QAnon idiots did in Dallas last week while they awaited the resurrection of JFK Jr. – show up in a public space, don’t be violent, and spew as much BS as they want. And, lo and behold, they got their message out, didn’t they? They look like even bigger idiots now. Mission accomplished!

      • 0 avatar
        jkross22

        @ Lou,

        I’m a mullet rock fan, and the band Extreme had an album in the mid 90’s titled, “your side, my side and the truth”.

        Mike,

        Within the last few days, the head of the NIH redefined gain of function research to mean something different than what they defined it as for the last number of years. It’s believed that the NIH director did this to deflect the attention away from the dressing down Fauci has received when testifying to congress on this matter. The timing of this change is indeed suspect at best.

        Would redefining a term that could be used to prosecute government leaders for doing something they were told not to do be considered lying? I would say so. Regardless of how any of us feel about Fauci or the NIH, changing the meaning of words should be a red line that we could all agree we should avoid doing.

        It’s sort of like when local politicians, who get frustrated because current laws prevent them from doing something they want to do, simply change the law. It’s no longer illegal, you see.

        We’re not just losing the line back to the truth when this happens. We risk our morals.

  • avatar
    notapreppie

    This is my surprised face.

  • avatar

    I have a hunch that Rivian will soon move its HQ to Texas. To continue to poach engineers from Tesla.

  • avatar
    truth_teller

    I’m a little confused. The article claims this woman, who I’m sure turned a lot of executive heads in her prime, was the President of Aston Martin. This is not true. She was President of Aston Martin of the Americas, which is a luxury marketing arm, not a car company.

    Was she left out of some more technical or financial meetings that didn’t relate to marketing cars to rich people? Perhaps, don’t see any real evidence presented here though.

  • avatar
    MitchConner

    Some observations:

    1. She didn’t have the guts to confront her boss directly. When somebody goes and whines to HR instead of calling others out directly — they’re immediately perceived as a pain in the rear end and eventually run. Seen it happen a bunch of times to both men and women. HR is useless. You build your case, document it in writing, put it in your boss’s face, fight it out and come to common ground or get an attorney involved if you get canned.

    2. She’s full of crap. Her Medium post says “My love for Aston Martin and my team made it difficult for me to take a leap to join a new, relatively unknown electric vehicle company: Rivian.” Give me a break. She had visions of options going to a 1000 bucks a share dancing in her head — so she jumped without properly vetting the people, company, and opportunity then failed to get the right terms down in her contract. That’s on her. All of it.

    3. Her dopey post also said “The company’s founder, R.J. 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….” Gee, no kidding. The founder of a startup in the drivers seat? Well, duh. He took the risk. He made the leap. He SHOULD be in the driver’s seat. His investors DEMAND he be in the driver’s seat. And he hired people he knew? You bet he did. And probably did it at below market rates with a percentage of the company in the package BECAUSE THAT’S HOW STARTUPS WORK.

    I’ve known some outstanding female executives over the years. They’re fearless. They defend their turf. They know their true value in the market, name their price, and will tell someone to stuff it if they think they’re getting shorted. And they don’t care what others think of them.

    Unfortunately, many women (and men) don’t have the backbone or chutzpah to get in people’s faces and settle for a marginalized role with their jobs or fail to get a full compensation package. These people are also the first to whine to HR or quit then moan about how the company screwed them.

    Frankly, she sounds like she wasn’t startup material. Probably moaned about her budget all the time, moved too slow, wanted too many meetings, and didn’t roll up her sleeves and put the hours in like everybody else — so she got left out of the loop because things needed to get done. Then, when she started complaining the rest of the company took it as an opportunity to blow her out while thinking “good riddance” along the way.

    If she was adding any real value the last the company would want to do is blow her out. She didn’t — and got run. BFD.

  • avatar
    Garak

    These EV startups are never going to be profitable, nor are they trying to be. They exist solely to suck in as much investor money as possible until some larger company buys them off. Meetings about sales, marketing or such do not matter to the boys’ club – they care only about the IPO and running away with as much money as possible.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      @garak: “These EV startups are never going to be profitable, nor are they trying to be.”

      That’s definitely not always the case. Rimac had a good approach. They developed technology for other manufacturers and built a limited number of cars as demonstrators for their technology. Their business plan didn’t depend on building a massive factory and mass production. Their technology did get both Porsche and Hyundai to take minority stakes. They ended up buying Bugatti from VW Group. They should be able to make a profit there. Bugatti is still probably going to be a technology demonstrator for them, but they should get a steady income from licensing and sales of their technology from other companies to be profitable. My favorite of their technologies is their 4 motor independent-wheel drive technology. I’m sure we’ll see it at Porsche and eventually Hyundai-Kia.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Tesla is profitable (now, even without carbon credits), but they aren’t a startup.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Meanwhile in the real car news..

    Bremach in LA auto show lineup this month

  • avatar
    teddyc73

    Oh no, not a “toxic bro culture”. Whatever that is. I always find it interesting how women call interactions between men or anything associated with men as “toxic”. Of course the whole overuse of the abbreviation “bro” is getting ridiculous but I digress (don’t get me started on the extremely stupid “bruh”). Her use of the word “toxic” immediately makes me question her credibility.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Someone should investigate how that bizarre-looking front end got approved. It always reminds me of Annie, in the old “Little Orphan Annie” comic strip.

    https://www.nydailynews.com/resizer/fL_qrgr3pQm5oH1sJcNGLZa5_SI=/1200×0/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-tronc.s3.amazonaws.com/public/JFYOJKS5SCYSIKLOT42WRM3KMI.jpg

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I’ve found that it’s foolish to make buying decisions based on a “company culture” unless the culture is outright fraudulent or illegal.

    To boil it down, when you do make decisions based on that, the people that suffer aren’t the decision makers – it’s the folks at the bottom of the ladder making $15 an hour.

    If this is a real problem at the company, we’ll know soon enough.

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