Update: Amazon's CEO Responds To Critical New York Times Article

Photo: Reed Saxon/AP Photo.
UPDATE: Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon, responded to this weekend's New York Times piece with an internal memo urging employees to read the article and report if they've experienced the "shockingly callous management practices" described in the story.

"The article doesn’t describe the Amazon I know or the caring Amazonians I work with every day," he writes. "But if you know of any stories like those reported, I want you to escalate to HR."

Bezos goes on to write that he wouldn't want to work for the company that's described in the Times article:

I don’t recognize this Amazon and I very much hope you don’t, either. More broadly, I don’t think any company adopting the approach portrayed could survive, much less thrive, in today’s highly competitive tech hiring market. The people we hire here are the best of the best. You are recruited every day by other world-class companies, and you can work anywhere you want.

You can read Bezos' full memo on Quartz.
This story was originally published on Saturday, August 15: The Twittersphere was abuzz this weekend following a New York Times profile of Amazon that pulled back the curtain on the company’s less than welcoming management policies. Journalists Jodi Kantor and David Streitfeld interviewed more 100 current and former Amazon employees to get an inside look at the most valuable retailer in the country.

The profile was filled with upsetting anecdotes that suggests Amazon is a really unhappy place to work. It’s worth giving the article a full read, but below, we outline five management practices that the tech behemoth should reconsider:

1. The “Anytime Feedback Tool” Encourages Backstabbing
Kantor and Streitfeld describe the “Anytime Feedback Tool” as a "widget in the company directory that allows employees to send praise or criticism about colleagues to management.” While the Amazon spokesperson praised the tool as a way to provide feedback, the Times reports that “many workers called it a river of intrigue and scheming.”

2. There Are No Women In The Company's Top Leadership Roles
Some attribute that to the company's Leadership Principles, which encourage employees to brutally rip apart each other's ideas in an effort to find the best ideas. “Motherhood can also be a liability,” Kantor and Streitfeld write, detailing the story of a mother of three who was told she wouldn’t be promoted because she wasn’t able to put in the long hours.

3. Employees Are Penalized For Having Children
Unlike Adobe or Netflix, Amazon offers no paternity leave. Mothers and fathers alike are faced with pressure to spend more time at work than with their families — and there was more than one story of an employee being placed on a “performance improvement plan” while facing huge personal challenges, including a miscarriage, cancer, and the illness of a parent.

4. There Is No Work-Life Balance
There is an expectation you'll put in 80-hour work weeks. The Times reports that one ex-employee’s fiancé would drive to the Amazon campus at 10 p.m. every night and dial her cellphone until she agreed to come home. When they went on vacation, she spent every day at Starbucks using the wireless connection to get work done.

“That’s when the ulcer started,” she told Kantor and Streitfeld.

5. There’s Zero Interest In Building A Loyal Workforce
At orientation, new employees are told that Amazon is not for everyone. The review structure requires a number of firings every year that are based on data-driven results and group meetings among executives. People get "thrown under the bus" so other departments can steal their employees.

Editor's Note: This story has been edited since it was first published.

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