Amazon CEO speaks out in wake of working conditions controversy

Jeff Bezos says he 'doesn't recognise' draconian Amazon described in damning New York Times article

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Amazon CEO speaks out in wake of working conditions controversy Bezos: The article doesn't describe the Amazon I know or the caring Amazonians I work with (Getty Images)
By  Tom Paye Published  August 17, 2015

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has hit back against the criticism levied against the company in a recent New York Times article, which describes a draconian and untrusting workplace in which employees are encouraged to work extremely long hours and report on each other.

The piece also included accounts of former Amazon employees who said they had been managed out of the company while wrestling with pregnancies, family deaths, and severe sicknesses.

However, an internal memo from Bezos has spoken out against the article, with the CEO claiming that he ‘doesn't recognise' the Amazon described in the article.

"The NYT article prominently features anecdotes describing shockingly callous management practices, including people being treated without empathy while enduring family tragedies and serious health problems," he wrote.

"The article doesn't describe the Amazon I know or the caring Amazonians I work with every day."

Bezos went on to encourage employees who had heard of any such stories to escalate the issue to HR, or to email him directly. He said that the company's tolerance of such a lack of empathy "needs to be zero".

In regards to the broader portrayal of Amazon as dystopian workplace in the article, Bezos also offered a rebuttal, saying that, if the company was such a terrible place to work, it would struggle to retain employees in such a competitive marketplace.

"I don't think any company adopting the approach portrayed could survive, much less thrive, in today's highly competitive tech hiring market," he said.

"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. I strongly believe that anyone working in a company that really is like the one described in the NYT would be crazy to stay. I know I would leave such a company."

Despite Bezos' email, Amazon has continued to take flak from commentators denouncing the practices described in the New York Times article. That said, others have defended the company, pointing out that other large technology firms also force tough working conditions on their employees. 

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