- Amazon plans to double the number of its Black leaders this year and next, according to an internal meeting reviewed by Business Insider.
- Amazon is also banning the use of technical jargon that could be unconsciously racist in its technical documents, while launching a new training program that focuses on diversity and inclusion.
- These changes are a huge step forward for Amazon, which has been criticized for years for its lack of diversity in the workforce, especially among senior leadership positions.
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Amazon plans to double the number of Black leaders in its senior ranks this year and next, while also eliminating the language considered “non-exclusive” in internal technical documents. set, Business Insider has learned.
In a recording of an internal hand-to-hand meeting held last week, reviewed by Business Insider, Amazon’s head of diversity, equity, and inclusion globally, Elizabeth Nieto, told staff that the company has set new “positive goals” for workplace diversity to ensure it “elevates the morale of all underrepresented groups” at Amazon.
The decision was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, she said, adding that the protests across the country “sparked a fierce conversation about the racial issue.” our society’s longstanding and the impact that the Negro community has felt for generations. “
“This is a really important topic and has always been of primary concern for not only our team but also every group across the company,” Nieto said during the meeting. “We know much more work to do and I am committed to making sure we maintain that focus.”
The shift is a major step forward for Amazon, which has been criticized for its lack of diversity in the workforce for years, especially among its top executives. It also follows an industry-wide movement to tackle diverse issues in technology, including Microsoft’s June announcement to double the number of its Black leaders by 2025.
Amazon has a long way to go to strengthen its black representation in the company. As of the end of last year, more than 80% of Amazon’s management roles worldwide were played by whites or Asians, while blacks made up only 8.3% of them, according to public data. ty. The proportion of Black employees increased to 26.5% across Amazon’s entire workforce, but much of that included lower-paying jobs across their entire warehouse and delivery network. .
Recently, Amazon has a hiring run. The company now has 1.12 million employees, up 50% year-on-year, marking the first time the company has more than 1 million employees. It is unclear how many employees include the Black manager base, as Amazon did not disclose specific numbers.
In an email to Business Insider, an Amazon spokesperson confirmed the initiatives, saying they are part of “the company’s long-standing efforts to diversify and integrate.”
“As part of this work, we are setting positive goals as part of our continued effort to be the top recruiter for Black employees,” a spokesperson told Business Insider.
3 areas of focus
Amazon has started with commitments in the following three areas this year, Nieto says:
- Duplicate Black Rep: Amazon plans to double its number of Black vice presidents and directors by 2020, and then again by 2021. Nieto says this will be done through a mix of recruiting. and the promotion of leaders throughout the company. Amazon is on track to achieve this goal by 2020.
- Remove non-exclusive languages: Amazon will stop using certain technical terms in technical documents that could be unconsciously racist to some people. It started with a six-clause ban by the end of 2020, including “white / black list”, “master and slave” and “black / white date”.
- Launch a new curriculum on diversity, equity and inclusion: Amazon this year will launch a new global training program based on “racial inclusion and equality updates through a global lens.” It will be part of the new referral process and a requirement for all existing employees.
These initiatives were first revealed in a company town hall previously hosted by Amazon Retail CEO Jeff Wilke and cloud boss Andy Jassy, as well as a local interest group. The set is called the Black Employee Network, Nieto said. She said the urgency and high demand in addressing this issue was reflected in the staff’s response to the meeting when more than 5,000 people followed the live session and more than 10,000 people had watched the video since. there.
“While our inclusive, fair and inclusive work is not new, we have definitely put new energy behind these initiatives as a way to meet the times,” Nieto said. this point.
The move comes after repeated calls from Amazon employees to be more proactive in addressing prejudice and racism at the company.
In 2017, an employee asked Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos during an internal plenary meeting why there are so few female leaders and a minority in his top leadership division called “S-team. “(he blamed low sales). This year, Amazon added a handful of women and minority leaders to the S group, including the first Black female member.
Amazon employees also initiated an internal petition this year to add “to” the company’s well-known leadership principles, Business Insider previously reported. It is not clear how much progress the movement has made, but the company has previously said that inclusion was widely reflected in its leadership principles (though it was not mentioned separately).
Amazon’s idea of banning non-exclusive language seems to be inspired by an internal movement of employees that unconsciously created a list of biased words and how to replace them, which has been Business Insider reported earlier. The list, created in June, includes dozens of words and phrases that may have negative connotations implied by the use of specific colors or history in relation to racism.
Amazon’s board of directors has a better track record of diversity. Last year, they added Rosalind Brewer, the chief executive of Starbucks, to their board, making her the second Black woman to ever sit on the firm’s board of directors. It also added former Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi to the board last year and now has five women on its 11-member board. These changes follow Amazon’s commitment to adopt the NFL-inspired “Rooney Rules,” which requires the company to interview minority candidates for the board.
Amazon leaders also expressed public support for the Black Lives Matter movement this year. Bezos shared several social media posts denigrating racial injustice, while Wilke shared his personal thoughts with his team in an internal email in June, Business Insider reported earlier.
Wilke wrote at the time: “I have become painfully clear that many blacks don’t feel safe or even feel safe, regardless of their job or education level. they or where they live. “I think I am doing my role well and contributing to a positive change. Obviously, my action hours are not enough.”