Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has promised that there will be no more “shockingly callous management practices” at the company. His response comes just days after The New York Times posted a shocking report about worker conditions at the eCommerce giant.
In an open letter to employees Bezos said he didn’t recognize the workplace portrayed in the article and urged any employees who knew of “stories like those reported” to contact him directly.
“Even if it’s rare or isolated, our tolerance for any such lack of empathy needs to be zero,” Mr. Bezos said in an email sent to his employees.
In the New York Times article titled “Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace,” a portrait was painted of a company that caused workers to cry regularly at their desks. In other cases, employees who suffered from cancer, miscarriages, and other personal crises were evaluated unfairly or edged out rather than given time to recover.
Jeff Bezos in his letter said he hopes workers don’t see Amazon as “a soulless, dystopian workplace where no fun is had and no laughter heard.”
Here is the full letter from Mr. Bezos:
If you haven’t already, I encourage you to give this (very long) New York Times article a careful read: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/16/technology/inside-amazon-wrestling-big-ideas-in-a-bruising-workplace.html
I also encourage you to read this very different take by a current Amazonian: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/amazonians-response-inside-amazon-wrestling-big-ideas-nick-ciubotariu
Here’s why I’m writing you. The NYT article prominently features anecdotes describing shockingly callous management practices, including people being treated without empathy while enduring family tragedies and serious health problems. The article doesn’t describe the Amazon I know or the caring Amazonians I work with every day. But if you know of any stories like those reported, I want you to escalate to HR. You can also email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Even if it’s rare or isolated, our tolerance for any such lack of empathy needs to be zero.
The article goes further than reporting isolated anecdotes. It claims that our intentional approach is to create a soulless, dystopian workplace where no fun is had and no laughter heard. Again, I don’t recognize this Amazon and I very much hope you don’t, either. More broadly, I don’t think any company adopting the approach portrayed could survive, much less thrive, in today’s highly competitive tech hiring market. The people we hire here are the best of the best. You are recruited every day by other world-class companies, and you can work anywhere you want.
I strongly believe that anyone working in a company that really is like the one described in the NYT would be crazy to stay. I know I would leave such a company.
But hopefully, you don’t recognize the company described. Hopefully, you’re having fun working with a bunch of brilliant teammates, helping invent the future, and laughing along the way.