Emails containing just a question mark, and a forwarded customer complaint, almost always originate from CEO Jeff Bezos, and they mean that the recipient will shortly have to explain himself or herself to the big boss.
Earlier this week, the Securities and Exchange Commission rejected Amazon's request to keep their pay data private, after Arjuna Capital filed a shareholder resolution to request that data. Yesterday, Amazon announced that it will share pay data – and that women at the company currently make 99.9 cents for every dollar male employees earn. Amazon also revealed that minority employees make 100.1 cents for every dollar earned by white employees.
There is a big movement for tech companies to publicly share data about the gender and racial diversity of their employees. However, while some companies are using this moment of crisis to show commitment to developing a more diverse, more productive workforce, others are less than eager to disclose numbers. In fact, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) just rejected a request from tech giant Amazon for exemption from a request from one of their investors to disclose gender pay data.
The short answer is "yes." It's also "no" and "it depends." The recent New York Times critique of Amazon's work culture — the most commented-on piece in the publication's history — has resulted in a firestorm of both backlash and support from the media and tech titans. Former and current Amazon employees have chimed in, sharing views and experiences that both support and negate the Times' claim that Amazon is a company guilty of "conducting an experiment in how far it can push white-collar workers to get them to achieve its ever-expanding ambitions."
This weekend, The New York Times published an exposé of working conditions at Amazon corporate. Amazonians, the article claims, are required to work long hours, in a data-driven environment that means constant performance evaluations; are expected to answer emails after midnight, sometimes at the prompting of follow-up texts; and are encouraged to inform on one another to management. Workers who don't come up to snuff allegedly are culled in layoffs that a former employee describes as "purposeful Darwinism" – some former employees claimed to have been pushed out after miscarriages or cancer. In an internal memo shortly after publication, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos responded, saying that the company described doesn't match his view of the organization and urging workers to come forward if they disagree.
In 2006, Treehouse CEO Ryan Carson decided to give employees of the Portland, Oregon-based technology education company three-day weekends every week, arguing that living to work instead of working to live is not the best (or at least only) key to a company's profitability and overall success. But, that doesn't mean that his decision was motivated solely by a desire to be a more humane boss. Employers making similar decisions are just as interested in the bottom line as they are in making workers' lives better. It turns out, working less sometimes means producing more – and better – work.
The English town of Rugeley was once a thriving place, with residents easily finding employment at the local coal mine. In 1990, that coal mine shut down, leaving many jobless -- some for as long as two decades. Then came along Amazon. The online retail giant opened up a fulfillment center in the small town in 2011, giving locals new hope and prospects to reignite their livelihood.