Amazon’s founder and chief executive has responded to the damning New York Times article claiming to describe the brutal working practices at the company by stating that anyone working in such a company would be “crazy to stay”.
In a memo sent to staff, Jeff Besos said: “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.”
The 5,900 word New York Times article described apparent horror stories from former employees.
It included the claims that one woman who had returned to work after undergoing serious surgery and another who had just had a stillborn child were put on “performance-improvement plans”; that staff are routinely seen bursting into tears and that workers in Amazon’s Seattle head office are expected to pull 80 hour weeks, to respond to emails late at night and to respond while on holiday.
Former employee Bo Olsen claimed: “Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk,” while one woman who had miscarried twins claimed she had gone on a business trip the day after she had surgery. Her boss had allegedly told her: “I’m sorry, the work is still going to need to get done,” she told the newspaper. “From where you are in life, trying to start a family, I don’t know if this is the right place for you,” they allegedly added.
In the memo, Bezos urges staff to first read the New York Times report in full, and to also read “a very different take by a current Amazonian,” Nick Ciubotariu, who has written an article from his own perspective as a “proud” employee aiming to “set the record straight” about Amazon’s practices.
Bezos said the New York Times report “claims our intentionally approach is to create a soulless, dystopian workplace where no fun is had and no laughter heard,” and said he doubted “any company adopting the approach portrayed could survive, much less thrive, in today’s highly competitive tech hiring market”.
Read Jeff Bezos' memo in full:
Amazon Fashion's studio in London
Amazon Fashion's studio in London
1/10 Amazon Fashion's studio in London
The studio aims to produce over 500,000 exclusive imagery every year.
2/10 Amazon Fashion's studio in London
35 new permanent roles have been created at the studio and up to 75 will also be brought in to support seasonal demand.
3/10 amAmazon Fashion's studio in London
At 46,000 sq ft, it houses 22 individual photography bays
4/10 Amazon Fashion's studio in London
Suki Waterhouse is new ambassador for Amazon Fashion.
5/10 Amazon Fashion's studio in London
It's got an editorial suite and video editing facilities
6/10 Amazon Fashion's studio in London
7/10 Amazon Fashion's studio in London
Suki Waterhouse and Sergio Bucher, VP Amazon Fashion EU, at the opening of Amazon's new multi-million pound fashion photography studio in London as she's announced as the company's brand ambassador for AW15.
8/10 Amazon Fashion's studio in London
9/10 Amazon Fashion's studio in London
10/10 Amazon Fashion's studio in London
If you haven't already, I encourage you to give this (very long) New York Times article a careful read:
I also encourage you to read this very different take by a current Amazonian:
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 email@example.com. 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.