Amazon: see the writing on the wall?

Enrique Dans
Sep 10 · 2 min read

Last April, a group of Amazon employees signed an open letter to Jeff Bezos and the Amazon board of directors expressly asking the company to take action in the fight against the climate emergency. In a very short time, at a company traditionally characterized by extreme discretion, the number of signatories of the letter exceeded eight thousand people prepared to go on record as saying that the company must do much more than greenwashing.

Despite the protests, the open letter and the dramatic requests made at the annual shareholders meeting a month later, the company’s shareholders rejected all calls for action and showed zero sensitivity toward the issue, essentially calling for an end to this environmental nonsense and to get on with making more money.

One thing is to treat your warehouse employees deplorably, forcing them to supplement their meager salaries with welfare in the knowledge that they have no alternative and will soon be replaced with robots anyway, but it is very different is to ignore the demands of employees who can easily find work anywhere else.

Now, hundreds of Amazon employees say they will actively participate in the Global Climate Strike on September 20, with many of them specifically asking for vacation time to do so, in protest at the company’s refusal to do anything about its prodigiously deep carbon footprint. The protest organizers have openly talked to the media about their plans, unconcerned about any reprisals, attracting negative attention to a company that is rapidly losing popularity among consumers and that could face problems in the medium term as a result. The evidence is clear, and if Amazon decides to continue ignoring it, it has a lot to lose, both in terms of sales and the law.

In short, Amazon can no longer afford to ignore the reality of the climate emergency, especially when the warnings come from its own employees. If those employees are not convinced about their mission, they will go somewhere else, because they can, and your company will suffer a brain drain, which in its chosen environment is not a good idea. Even the Business Roundtable now accepts that the argument companies exist solely to maximize shareholder profit, without worrying about its workforce, suppliers, society or the planet is as dead as Milton Friedman.

There are requests that, in today’s world, cannot be ignored. Amazon has to give answers to the questions its workforce asks, just as it has to do so to the rest of society. The drive for profit and efficiency at any cost is no longer acceptable, and is only an option for the oblivious or the stupid. Otherwise, we the workers and the customers will go elsewhere. Why? Because we can.


(En español, aquí)

Enrique Dans

On the effects of technology innovation on people, companies and society (writing in Spanish at enriquedans.com since 2003)

Enrique Dans

Written by

Professor of Innovation at IE Business School and blogger at enriquedans.com

Enrique Dans

On the effects of technology innovation on people, companies and society (writing in Spanish at enriquedans.com since 2003)

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