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Amazon's chief executive Jeff Bezos has written to staff defending his company's human resources policy, following a New York Times article claiming a cruel and back-stabbing environment for white-collar workers at the online retailing giant.
The Times article, based on interviews with current and former Amazon staffers, claims employees were pushed to extremes, and managers showed little sympathy or empathy to workers even when they were faced with illnesses or bereavement.
In a memo to staff obtained by CNBC, Bezos encouraged staff to read the Times story, but added:
The article doesn't describe the Amazon I know or the caring Amazonians I work with every day. But if you know of any stories like those reported, I want you to escalate to HR. You can also email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Even if it's rare or isolated, our tolerance for any such lack of empathy needs to be zero.
The article goes further than reporting isolated anecdotes. It claims that our intentional approach is to create a soulless, dystopian workplace where no fun is had and no laughter heard. Again, 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.
Under the headline "Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace," the Times said, "The company is conducting an experiment in how far it can push white-collar workers to get them to achieve its ever-expanding ambitions."
"At Amazon, workers are encouraged to tear apart one another's ideas in meetings, toil long and late (emails arrive past midnight, followed by text messages asking why they were not answered), and held to standards that the company boasts are 'unreasonably high.' The internal phone directory instructs colleagues on how to send secret feedback to one another's bosses," it said.