A New York Times article revealed a tough work environment at Amazon, and the company has responded. "Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace" includes examples of long working hours and little tolerance for employees' personal lives or health. Within three days, piece received more comments than any other NYT article.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos isn't happy about the portrayal. In an email to employees, Bezos wrote,
"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 email@example.com. 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."
Nick Ciubotariu, Amazon's head of infrastructure development, also wrote a rebuttal-a long piece with counterarguments for many claims in the article. He admits that some examples may have been true of Amazon in the past, but they don't reflect his experience today:
"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."
- Does the article change your opinion of Amazon? Will you still buy from the company? Would you apply for a job?
- Assess Ciubotariu's rebuttal. What are his most and least convincing arguments?
- How, if at all, should the New York Times reporter respond?