“He said, She said” Amazon


In last weeks post on Amazon, the blog focused on the New York Times article that did a feature on the mistreatment of workers and work life at the company. Jodi Kantor, who interviewed previous employees at Amazon and wrote about the intense atmosphere at the company where people cry at their desks because work life is too stressful. The article also points out that women were mistreated due to motherhood and wanting to balance raising children and a career, one female worker was told at Amazon (according to Kantor) that it is too hard to have children and be successful at her position at Amazon. Another worker talks about how their anxiety increased due to working in an atmosphere where people were addicted to succeeding. This raises a question for Amazon of how much drive and will to succeed is too much, at what point does aiming for perfection become dangerous?

The CEO of Amazon Jeff Bezos made a reply by saying (writing a memo to his company’s 180,000 workers that) “The article doesn’t describe the Amazon I know or the caring Amazonians I work with every day.”

As I searched for responses to the New York Times article, there is a Medium article written by Jay Carney, the Senior Vice President for Global Corporate Affairs at Amazon who comes back at Kantor for her poor use of fact checking. As I myself read reviews of Carney’s response to the New York Times, I couldn’t help but think why he was focusing so much on the details of fact checking, when he should be defending his company. Carney writes that Kantor never contacted him to make sure resources and times and dates checked out. Carney explains that he wasn’t happy when Kantor decided to make her story extremely one sided instead of hearing him out.

“Reporters like to joke about stories and anecdotes that are ‘too good to check.’ But the joke is really a warning. When an anecdote or quote is too good to check, it’s usually too good to be true.” – Carney

Although it is important to point out the importance of fact checking there could have been more to Carney’s response. What is interesting is that Carney spends a lot of time ridiculing the New York Times instead of owning up to actions or dedicating his response to a plan of action to make work life a better experience for employees.

The controversy presents a interesting approach to as where Amazon will take their employee work life critique and if conditions are worth it to the company for improving.

 

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7 thoughts on ““He said, She said” Amazon

  1. I think this is interesting because of how defensive Carney became over the idea of fact checking. This kind of reminds me of the whole discussion on Mike Daisey and lying and the truth. If these reports of Amazon workers are true how come no body has found it and definitively documented it? Maybe it is happening and Kantor just never got actual facts that she could use to show proof to anyone but herself. Regardless the dynamic between Amazon and Kantor is interesting to say the least.

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    1. Thanks Ben, Im wondering what the HR department at Amazon is like and how involved they are with the treatment of employees. I also wonder if Kantor will ever come back with a statement about fact checking in general.

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  2. This is fascinating to the point of how Carney wasn’t defending his company but more attacking the article that was written about his company. In my opinion this is very questionable just as you said. It sounds to me like Carney is trying to hide something. Very similar to when a teenager gets in trouble and gets all defensive because they don’t want to get in trouble. This is a situation that just doesn’t sit right with me and I think there is something going on behind the scenes.

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  3. Similar to the comments above, I too was extremely surprised by Carney’s reaction to the interview of his employees conducted by Kantor. Maybe Kantor’s interview wasn’t an accurate portrayal of the worklife at Amazon, who knows. But Carney’s reaction is definitely not something the public wants to hear in reaction to the working environment at Amazon. By going into that strong of defense mode, it is almost as if Carney is guilty/ has something to hide. Or, at least that is how I would interpret it.

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    1. Morgan, I think you are right on target, it is as though Carney’s defense mode makes him look guilty, perhaps staying quiet would have done less harm. Also many people respect and read the New York Times, that said I think dissing a popular publication is the wrong way to go. I think Carney could have approached Kantor in a more civil manor and try to get his point across without pointing fingers.

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  4. Sounds like trying to pursue a “defensive” stakeholder strategy. However, if the truth has a distinct bias against one’s, Amazon’s, side, defensive strategies may not work.

    The people around Bezos may not be willing to tell him there are problems, so his myopia does include only the Amazon he hopes is reality for most.

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