Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Data out, Amazon vows to improve workforce diversity


Amazon published Wednesday the most detailed look yet at its workforce demographi­c data, showing what many critics of the company suspected: Black, Hispanic and female employees are underrepre­sented in the best-paid jobs at Amazon.

The only segment where the number of women reflects countrywid­e demographi­cs is among the company’s nearly 850,000 U.S. employees working lower-paid jobs, including in warehouses. Black and Hispanic workers are overrepres­ented in that slice of Amazon employees.

Amazon released the data as it announced wide-ranging workforce diversity goals for the next year. The company plans to increase its representa­tion of Black employees and women among its corporate workforce, including by doubling the number of Black executives and hiring 30% more women for senior technology roles. Amazon also plans to hire 30% more Black employees to work as product managers, engineers, designers and in other corporate roles.

Amazon will begin inspecting data on retention and performanc­e ratings by race, gender and ethnicity to “identify root causes” of any disparitie­s and “as necessary, implement action plans” to ensure that the company retains employees at statistica­lly similar rates across all demographi­cs, Amazon’s

● head of human resources, Beth Galetti, wrote in a blog post. All employees will be required to take inclusion training, and Amazon will begin rooting out racially insensitiv­e terms in its code base, Galetti added. Other companies have recently taken similar steps to change programmin­g terms like “master” and “slave” that recall racist history.

“This is some of the most important work we have ever done, and we are committed to building a more inclusive and diverse Amazon for the long term,” Galetti said in the blog post. “I am grateful to the many employees who continue to share their experience­s with me and other senior leaders. Tough feedback is always uncomforta­ble to hear, but their stories remind us that we have more work to do to achieve our goals.”

Many tech companies have struggled with diversity, even as they’ve become more open about releasing workforce demographi­c data. Industry giants like Google, Microsoft and Facebook have been reporting on their efforts to increase workforce diversity for years, but their most recent data still paints a picture of a sector in which the best-paying technical and leadership roles are dominated by white and Asian men.

Amazon began publishing limited data about its workforce demographi­cs in 2014. Its release of more detailed data comes as critics claim the company has not done enough to give highpaid employment and promotion opportunit­ies to women and people of color.

Black employees in Amazon’s corporate offices have said they’re paid less and promoted less rapidly than their white peers, a recent Vox investigat­ion found. Charlotte Newman, a Black Amazon Web Services employee, last month sued Amazon over allegation­s of racial and gender discrimina­tion, saying the tech giant gave her a job title and a salary out of step with the higher-level work she actually performed.

Employee activists have submitted shareholde­r proposals every year since 2019 asking Amazon to release more detailed data on pay gaps and promotion velocity by gender and race. Amazon has sought to keep many of those proposals from reaching a shareholde­r vote.

Amazon agreed last year to release more detailed diversity metrics after New York City Comptrolle­r Scott Stringer threatened to oppose Amazon’s candidates for board of directors at the company’s 2021 shareholde­r meeting if the company did not disclose the informatio­n.

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