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Zen Mind, Jeff Mind (2 of 2)

August 18, 2015

In resonse to the recent challenge to The Amazon Way, here are responses from within the company, as reported by Lauren C. Williams in ThinkProgress:

[begin quotation] “Nick Ciubotariu, the company’s infrastructure development director, questioned the Times’ reporting in a LinkedIn post.

When I interviewed at Amazon, I heard all the horror stories from the past. They’re actually pretty well known in Seattle. I was told they were true, that the company continues to take steps to make things better, and that work-life balance was taken seriously. I wasn’t convinced, but I took a bet…

During my 18 months at Amazon, I’ve never worked a single weekend when I didn’t want to. No one tells me to work nights. No one makes me answer emails at night. No one texts me to ask me why emails aren’t answered. I don’t have these expectations of the managers that work for me, and if they were to do this to their Engineers, I would rectify that myself, immediately. And if these expectations were in place, and enforced upon me, I would leave.

Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos responded to the report with a company-wide memo, encouraging everyone to read it and Ciubortariu’s take.

“The article doesn’t describe the Amazon I know or the caring Amazonians I work with every day,” Bezos wrote. “But if you know of any stories like those reported, I want you to escalate to HR. You can also email me directly…Even if it’s rare or isolated, our tolerance for any such lack of empathy needs to be zero,” referring to anecdotes of employees being pushed out or fired for adjusting their hours to take care of children, taking time off to grieve, and for illness. [end quotation]

People have the right to freely choose to spend many hours advancing Amazon. If I choose, as the young Julian Bond chose, to empower oppressed people by organizing for civil rights, with at least part of my time, can I also choose to work at Amazon? (Or, as the original article points out, if I choose to have a family—well—or to get sick…?)

(Btw, as a Seattle-ite I personally believe that Amazon should be critiqued, relentlessly. And I’m sure that Jeff would agree. It’s for the good of the company and consumers everywhere.)

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