Amazon's Jeff Bezos Opens Line of Communication with Employees In Wake of Damning Article About Company Culture

Amazon's Jeff Bezos Opens Line of Communication with Employees In Wake of Damning Article About Company Culture
Image credit: REUTERS | Rick Wilking

Amazon had a rough weekend.

On Saturday, The New York Times published a piece by Jodi Kantor and David Streitfeld titled “Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace.” The article was damning to say the least, painting Amazon as a ruthless work environment where frequent criticism, tears in cubicles and a constant refrain of “Amazon is where overachievers go to feel bad about themselves,” are part of the employee experience.

Through more than 100 interviews with current and former employees, the article highlighted a number of egregious episodes. In one case, an employee who miscarried twins left for a business trip the day after her surgery, having reportedly been told by her boss “I’m sorry, the work is still going to need to get done. From where you are in life, trying to start a family, I don’t know if this is the right place for you.”

Related: 5 Hidden Dangers of a Stereotypical Startup Culture

In an email to all employees, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos attempted to re-engage with his staff, urging them to take a close look at the article and reach out to him personally if they experienced situations like the ones reported.

He also said the article doesn’t reflect what he sees at Amazon, nor would he tolerate it. "The article doesn’t describe the Amazon I know or the caring Amazonians I work with every day…It claims that our intentional approach is to create a soulless, dystopian workplace where no fun is had and no laughter heard,” he wrote. “I strongly believe that anyone working in a company that really is like the one described in the NYT would be crazy to stay. I know I would leave such a company."

Related: 3 Common Leadership Mistakes That Make a Miserable Company Culture

Jay Carney, the company's SVP for corporate global affairs and former White House press secretary, also weighed in, telling CBS News that neither he nor many long-time employees recognize the "Darwinian, Dickensian" culture detailed in the piece. He also says the company wouldn't stay competitive in the tech industry for very long if this kind of culture was in place.

The piece caused a major splash on social media. From calls to boycott Amazon to meditations on the nature of startup culture, here are just a few of the strong opinions the article provoked.

Related: When Doing Right Turns Out to Be Very Wrong

Edition: November 2016

Get the Magazine

Limited-Time Offer: 1 Year Print + Digital Edition and 2 Gifts only $9.99
Subscribe Now