A new report citing an internal letter to Amazon’s human resources department alleges mistreatment of women within Amazon’s Prime membership division, including but not limited to harassment and disproportionate growth opportunities for men versus women at the company.
Citing a letter to a former head of diversity and inclusion, as well as accounts from 11 former and current workers within the Prime unit, Insider reported Monday that the Prime team had been anonymously accused in March of being “institutionally biased against women.” The memo’s author — whose identity Insider says it independently verified but did not name in its report — described a culture in which women were often overlooked for promotions, demeaned and condescended to, and “more likely to be performance managed.”
Insider pointed to several other instances of apparent institutional inequality at the corporate level within the company. Earlier this year, for example, five women who worked for the tech giant filed discrimination lawsuits alleging experiences involving harassment as well as race and gender discrimination. The Insider report didn’t specify a specific time period for the allegations laid out in the anonymous memo.
The March memo was reportedly sent to Amazon’s head of equity, diversity, and inclusion Kristen Puchek, who departed the company in April. When reached for comment about allegations of gender inequality and the letter in question, an Amazon spokesperson told The Verge in a statement by email that the “claims do not reflect the culture of Amazon or the Prime team,” adding that the Prime organization has worked to “foster a diverse, equitable and inclusive culture in which all employees feel supported and successful.”
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“Representation amongst women has increased on the team in recent years and improving the representation of women in senior leadership roles remains a top priority,” the spokesperson said. “In addition to inspecting how we hire, develop, and promote employees, the Prime leadership team has set aggressive goals to continue our organization’s progress such as doubling the number of women in leadership roles and focusing on the retention of women at the Senior Manager level and above in 2021.”
In a statement to Insider, the company appeared to push back on the claims. A spokesperson told the outlet that 18 women on the Prime membership team had been promoted during the last year, adding that promotions for women were equal to those for men within the company.
Amazon certainly sounds like it wants to support women, but there can often be a gulf between what it says and what we’ve historically seen from the company.