For all the advances Amazon has made, it still can’t seem to figure out diversity. The $800 billion tech giant employs more than 600,000 people and serves millions, but its leadership has one core demographic. Besides CEO Jeff Bezos, there are five other figures at the top of the company who make consumer-facing decisions, and each of them is a white man.
According to reporting this January from Eugene Kim at CNBC, of the 48 executives in Amazon’s upper ranks, almost all of them, like Bezos, are white men. (There are two other Jeffs as well: Jeff Blackburn and Jeff Wilke.) Kim found that four of those 48 executives are women, and Bezos’ only female direct report is Beth Galetti, Amazon’s senior vice president of human resources. There are no African-Americans among its VP-level executives, and only a few are of Asian descent.
OneZero reached out to Amazon about its leadership. A spokesperson declined to comment on the record.
While Bezos asserted Amazon’s commitment to diversity in the wake of the 2016 election, the company has resisted calls to make progress — including some from its own shareholders. In April 2018, a proposal from CtW Investment Group, an Amazon shareholder that works with union-based pension funds, asked Amazon to put in place a “Rooney Rule” — a policy borrowed from the NFL that requires teams to interview minority candidates for coaching and operations jobs. CtW similarly wanted Amazon to codify a rule requiring the company to interview candidates, including women and people of color, for director positions. In response, Amazon’s board recommended a vote against CtW’s proposal.
“Our processes for nominating directors involve complex considerations that are designed to advance the long-term interests of shareholders,” the company said in a statement, which immediately set off internal revolt among Amazon employees. “What exactly is the complex process that we currently use to find and vet talent that we are so proud of?” one employee rhetorically asked an Amazon communications representative.
Amazon ultimately did an about-face, agreeing to adopt a practice to include women and minorities when considering new board candidates…