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HomeNewsBusiness WireARJUNA CAPITAL/UNITED FOR RESPECT: Amazon Worker To Shareholders: Black and Brown Associates...

ARJUNA CAPITAL/UNITED FOR RESPECT: Amazon Worker To Shareholders: Black and Brown Associates Are Being Held Back, It’s Time To Eliminate Barriers To Their Well-Being

Amazon associates respond to CEO Andy Jassy’s letter to shareholders and hold public discussion on Amazon’s proxy ahead of annual shareholder meeting

BOSTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–In a public response to Amazon CEO Andy Jassy’s annual letter to shareholders and the company’s proxy statement recommending investors vote against all 18 shareholder resolutions, Amazon associates held an event today with investors and reporters to advocate for pro-worker, pro-equity shareholder proposals. These associates discussed Arjuna Capital’s resolution on racial and gender pay equity and Tulipshare’s resolution on workplace health and safety.

At the event, Ron Sewell, an Amazon associate in East Point, Georgia and leader with United for Respect, highlighted the need for Amazon to fairly compensate its employees and provide greater opportunities for career advancement within the company, specifically for women and workers of color. Amazon associates across the country are calling for higher pay amid daily struggles to make ends meet and keep up with rising inflation. These associates have also expressed frustration over a lack of access to higher-paying positions within the company. Citing Amazon’s own employment data as he spoke in support of Arjuna Capital’s pay equity shareholder resolution, Mr. Sewell pointed to how Amazon warehouse associates are overwhelmingly people of color and women, while the top leadership remains largely white and male. As such, women and black and brown workers at Amazon disproportionately face barriers to their well-being, including low wages and unpredictable schedules.

Mr. Sewell said, “When I joined Amazon, my employment contract said 20 hours a week, without any mention of “flexing down.” But now I can’t count on having those 20 hours. There are weeks where every one of my shifts is cut by an hour. This makes it hard for associates to budget, plan expenses, and pay our bills. Is it any wonder that turnover is so high?”

Mr. Sewell also connected his experience and those of his coworkers to concerns around opportunity for career advancement stating, “Many associates are unable to move up the career ladder… When associates don’t feel like they have a path forward at Amazon, they can lose interest in the work and leave, leading to Amazon’s massive turnover problem. This is why I am supporting Arjuna Capital’s shareholder resolution calling for transparency around racial and gender pay gaps. It often feels like not everyone at Amazon has the same opportunities for advancement and promotion, and being transparent on pay is an important first step in ensuring equity and retaining hard-working employees.”

Arjuna Capital’s shareholder proposal requests Amazon disclose unadjusted, median racial and gender pay gaps which measure the median pay of minorities and women versus non-minorities and men. Amazon currently reports its adjusted pay gaps, assessing pay between minorities and non-minorities, women and men, performing similar roles. However, median pay gaps are a crucial measure as they show occupational segregation and how workers of different races and genders are valued across the entire company. For example, Amazon’s adjusted pay gap disclosure might show that black executives make as much as white executives. Yet, this disclosure can be misleading if not complemented by the median pay gap numbers, as it does not reflect that only 5.5% of Amazon’s executives are Black.

Amazon’s workforce data shows occupational segregation is prevalent at the company. In 2021, among all Amazon workers:

  • People of Color comprised 70% of Amazon’s U.S. workforce, but only 34% of senior leadership
  • Black workers comprised 28% of Amazon’s U.S. workforce, but only 5.5% of senior leadership
  • LatinX workers comprised 24% of Amazon’s U.S. workforce, but only 4.5% of senior leadership
  • Female workers comprised 45% of Amazon’s global workforce, but only 23% of senior leadership

Natasha Lamb, managing partner at Arjuna Capital, said “Pay gap transparency is essential for Amazon to manage and reduce pay inequity over time. It’s no secret structural bias exists, at Amazon, and across our society. But if Amazon’s strategy is to stick its head in the sand, it will fail to foster a more diverse productive organization, where workers, the company and its investors thrive.”

While an increasing number of companies are committed to disclosing median pay gaps, Amazon lags behind. Currently, 44 U.S. companies are committed to disclosing median pay data, including large company peers Microsoft, Adobe, Visa, and Mastercard. These companies recognize the unique value of the median pay gap and are providing appropriate transparency to their employees and investors.

“As Amazon’s retail division struggles with high costs of turnover, wage gap transparency is the first step in identifying and rectifying any pay inequity,” said Bianca Agustin, Corporate Accountability Director at United for Respect. “Amazon can and should do better at ensuring all workers’ well-being at the company.”

Also joining Mr. Sewell on the call were Amazon associates organizing with Warehouse Workers for Justice and the Missouri Workers Center. These associates shared their concerns about health and safety at Amazon and urged shareholders to support a resolution filed by Tulipshare calling for an independent review of warehouse working conditions at the company.

Watch the recorded webinar here.

About Arjuna Capital:

Arjuna Capital is a sustainable investment firm that works with accredited investors and institutions to invest their assets integrating Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) risks and opportunities. Arjuna Capital has been recognized for using shareholder resolutions to promote racial and gender pay equity in the tech, banking, and consumer sectors. www.Arjuna-Capital.com

About United For Respect:

United for Respect (UFR) is a national non-profit organization. UFR is a multiracial movement of working people throughout the U.S. advancing a vision of an economy where our work is respected and our humanity recognized. UFR is not a labor union and does not intend or seek to represent retail employees over terms and conditions of employment or to bargain with retail employers. www.united4respect.org

Contacts

Julia Frost, (978) 866-0208, julia@arjuna-capital.com
Melissa Uribe, press@united4respect.org

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