Silicon Valley Dazzled By Amazon Dollars Over Employees
Like most of the tech savvy, I spent my weekend reading the New York Times article about Amazon’s workplace culture(read here). Then there was the counterpoint by an executive at Amazon posted on LinkedIn (read here), which finally culminated in an internal memo by Jeff Bezos (read here).
Let The Instant Side Taking Commence
One of the first things that happened after the NY Times released their report, was that people immediately took sides. The odd thing, was that it became a little bit of the haves vs the have nots, or to be kinder, the tech rich and entrepreneurs who profit from Amazon in some way vs the regular people.
The tech elite accused the NY Times of being biased. There was a slant, that is true, but unlike the hundreds of articles which came after, the writers spent 6 months interviewing over 100 people, and it was Amazon who limited who they could speak to.
In fact, when Nick Ciubotariu wrote his counterpoint article, it was apparently against policy since he is an exec. Apparently, since he seemed to make it appear that everyone working for Amazon were clowning around, laughing and talking, with weekends off at the beach, he was given a pass.
My point is that people with a financial interest in a place might not be so inclined to see some issues within a place like Amazon. Here’s the thing, none of the articles disputed what happened to individuals, not even Jeff Bezos.
Ciubotariu tried on some level, but since he was only been at Amazon for 18 months, his credibility is a little lacking. My point is, OK, let’s all agree that what happened may not be reflective of the “whole” company, but with 150,000 employees worldwide and countless lawsuits by employees, one has to admit that everything is not peaches and cream.
How Much Abuse is Acceptable?
I have found myself wondering, based on the comments by the tech elite (read here), is how much abuse must workers take, so people like Marc Andreessen can make a few bucks on their stock? You see, it doesn’t matter if it is a case of “all the time” versus “isolated,” the fact is some of situations should have NEVER happened in the first place.
The reason companies like Amazon are able to mistreat their employees is because the tech elite say it’s fine. Would they feel that way if the same accusations were coming out of a place like Macy’s or Walmart? NO.
So, this is really about the have vs the have nots. I mean, how seriously should you take a bunch of millionaires telling people they should just suck it up if they gave birth to a stillborn child and had to go on a business trip the next day, “since the work had to be done?” Or, caregivers for family members with the cancer having their job put in jeopardy for doing the right thing.
Right Versus Wrong
You see, in the end this article about the Amazon work culture has very little to do about a company being innovative or a disrupter, but about a company who has put those things above people. This is a story about right versus wrong. Jeff Bezos says he didn’t recognize the company that the NY Times described. My guess is, people don’t tell him or he overlooks it to reach his goals.
Amazon is a great tool, but Silicon Valley needs to remember that it takes people to build it, and if they are being abused for the sake of getting shareholders an extra penny, then something is very wrong, which a Bezos memo can’t fix.