Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos has responded to a New York Times article describing alleged ruthless work practices at the company after the article sparked outrage on social media.
The NYT has written an in-depth expose on the working culture and practices at the online giant in the US after interviewing more 100 current and former employees.
Its findings have been damning, particularly in its treatment of workers who have suffered personal crises in their lives. An example was given of one woman with breast cancer who was put on ‘performance improvement plans’ and another who had just had a stillborn child treated the same way. It also described workers being regularly reduced to tears at their desks and practices which encourage employees to turn on each other, such as an internal tool to give ‘secret’ feedback on colleagues’ work to their bosses.
Many have reacted to the report expressing their outrage on social media, with more than 3,000 comments on the NYT article.
Bezos has responded in an internal email to employees, obtained by Geek Wire.
In it he said the article did not describe “the Amazon I know” and he encouraged those who have experienced maltreatment to contact HR or contact him directly.
“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," Bezos said. "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.”
He added that he thought people would be “crazy to stay” at a company such as the one described by the NYT. “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.”
Bezos also directed employees to a blog on the subject written by an employee, which said the NYT piece was “inaccurate” and “horribly misinformed.”