Amazon's HR boss tells employees it's 'wrong' to deface LGBT posters, months after first incidents

Key Points
  • Amazon's SVP of human resources Beth Galetti said it's "wrong" to discriminate against others, in response to multiple LGBT pride posters that were defaced in recent months.
  • Amazon's silence on the issue has sparked a debate inside the company on whether Amazon’s response was adequate, drawing over 100 responses in an internal email thread.
  • The email comes three weeks after CNBC first reported on the issue.
SOURCE: Mike Kane | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Nearly three months after Amazon employees first noticed defaced LGBT Pride posters in its Seattle headquarters, Amazon's leadership has come out to criticize those moves.

In an email sent to Amazon's Seattle-based employees on Tuesday, Amazon Senior VP of Human Resources Beth Galetti said it is "wrong" to discriminate against others and that all employees should be "supported by their fellow Amazonians." She also urged everyone to call out and report inappropriate behavior that discourages inclusiveness.

"When individuals discriminate against others — be it by making a 'joke,' a passive comment, or by defacing a poster — not only is it against our policies, it is wrong," Galetti wrote in the email.

Some people at the company were concerned Amazon's initial response did not address the issue forcefully enough. An internal email thread on the issue drew over 100 responses, CNBC reported in August.

In particular, some employees criticized Amazon's failure to call out biased behavior against LGBT community members in the thread, with one writing that safety at work is "not guaranteed."

It's unclear why Galetti is addressing the issue now, or why the email was addressed only to Seattle employees. Amazon did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Mikki Hebl, a Rice University professor who studies diversity and discrimination issues, says it's the right move that should make Amazon's LGBT employees feel more protected at work.

"It's important when a discrimination has occurred for organizational leaders to come forward and say it's wrong," Hebl said. "They have the ability to set norms, set policies, and set rules within their own organization."

Hebl said the next step for Amazon is to actively search out the perpetrators and punish them for their behavior, as Galetti makes it clear that the company has a zero tolerance policy against discrimination.

"Amazon should make sure that they are punishing the people who have vandalized the posters and who are not following the policy that Amazon has set forth," she said.

Here's the full text of Galetti's email:

Hello Seattle Amazonians,

At Amazon, we are committed to diversity and inclusion. It is an important part of our values, and it helps us innovate on behalf of all our customers.

With this in mind, I want to address an issue we are seeing before it becomes bigger. In recent weeks, there have been a few cases of employees or their guests defacing elevator posters for events that promote diversity. When individuals discriminate against others – be it by making a "joke," a passive comment, or by defacing a poster – not only is it against our policies, it is wrong. All employees should be able to bring their authentic selves to work every day to serve our customers – no matter our gender (cis or trans), race, ethnicity, education, age, disability status, or cultural background – and be supported by their fellow Amazonians.

If you see anyone engaging in these sorts of activities, please be owners and address it – call out the joke or passive comment as inappropriate, or take the poster down. You can also report it to your HRBP or through our Ethics Hotline, and we will follow-up immediately.

Thank you to the hundreds of thousands of Amazonians worldwide who strive to ensure all of us feel welcomed and included. You are what makes Amazon a great place to work.

Beth Galetti

SVP, Human Resources

The LGBTQ communities are job creators, says NGLCC president
The LGBTQ communities are job creators, says NGLCC president