Amazon boss Jeff Bezos has come out swinging in response to allegations in a New York Times article last weekend that claimed the "company is conducting an experiment in how far it can push white-collar workers to get them to achieve its ever-expanding ambitions"
Bezos said the "shockingly callous management practices" described in the article did not "ring true" with the company he knows and heads, and he wasted no time in shooting off a memo to all employees encouraging them to whistle blow on any kind of management behaviour outlined in the article, to either himself or to Amazon's human resources department.
He wrote "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 protected] Even if it’s rare or isolated, our tolerance for any such lack of empathy needs to be zero."
The article quoted a former Amazon HR director describing Amazon's office culture as "purposeful Darwinism" where workers who did not fit in for any reason were "culled annually."
"Some workers who suffered from cancer, miscarriages and other personal crises said they had been evaluated unfairly or edged out, rather than given time to recover," reported the NYT.
The article also cited one former employee in Amazon's book marketing department who said his enduring memory of his former workplace was of his work mates crying at their desks. "You walk out of a conference room and you'll see a grown man covering his face," the former employee is quoted. "Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk."
Bezos' memo to his employees read " The article goes further than reporting isolated anecdotes. It claims that our intentional approach is to create a soulless, dystopian workplace were 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".