Amazon To Carry Out Racial Equity Audit

Image credit: Amazon

E-commerce giant will conduct racial equity audit led by former US Attorney, after shareholder proposal on diversity, equity and inclusion

Amazon is seeking to determine if there any racial impacts of its policies on its hourly workers, after it confirmed that it will be conduct a racial equity audit.

Amazon disclosed the move in a filing last week, and it promised to make the findings public but did not set a completion date.

The audit will be led by former US Attorney General Loretta Lynch, as well as other lawyers at Amazon.

Image credit: Amazon
Image credit: Amazon

Racial audit

Amazon said that it now employs 1.6 million people worldwide, having created more than 750,000 full time and part time jobs in the US since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, back in January 2020.

According to CNBC, shareholders have been pressing Amazon to commission an independent review of how the company may contribute to racial inequities.

Meanwhile, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has reportedly refiled a proposal for a racial-equity audit to be voted on at Amazon’s annual shareholder meeting next month.

Amazon has recommended that shareholders vote against the resolution for an independent review, as it is conducting its own racial-equity audit of its hourly workers.

“We are committed to supporting and increasing diversity, and have committed to conducting and publicly releasing the results of a racial equity audit that will evaluate any disparate racial impacts on our nearly one million US hourly employees resulting from our policies, programs, and practices,” said Amazon in its filing.

Amazon said it has also announced company-wide diversity, equity, and inclusion goals, and it provides “extensive statistical reporting on our workforce diversity and pay equity.”

Amazon has been accused of discrimination previously.

In March 2021, a black female executive (Charlotte Newman) at Amazon Web Services filed a discrimination lawsuit against Amazon, alleging the firm hires black people for lower positions and promotes them more slowly than white workers. Newman also alleges she was subjected to harassment.

Amazon however says it publishes annually publish gender and race representation information on its diversity and inclusion website, which includes representation by job type, such as front-line associates, corporate employees, and senior leaders.

Worker safety

CNBC also reported that Amazon will also face a shareholder vote next month calling for an independent audit of its treatment of warehouse workers.

That proposal cites reports of rising injury rates inside warehouses, and a recent citation by Washington state’s workplace-safety regulator, as evidence of workers “being subjugated to unsafe working conditions and unfair treatment.”

In February 2021 Letitia James, New York’s attorney general, filed a lawsuit against Amazon, alleging it failed to protect workers during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Amazon has urged shareholders to vote down this resolution, pointing to its investments in workplace safety.

In December however, an Amazon distribution centre was caught up in the spate of deadly tornados that killed at least 64 people in the US state of Kentucky.

Unfortunately the tornado killed six Amazon employees, injuring another, and 45 people were rescued safely.

And the family of one victim is suing Amazon and other firms over the alleged wrongful death of their son, aged 26, in the tornado.

Rising costs

Amazon meanwhile is also contending with rising costs globally, and last week announced it would pass the rising costs onto third-party sellers that utilise the Amazon fulfilment services.

Amazon is adding a 5 percent “fuel and inflation surcharge” to the fees it charges third-party sellers who use its fulfilment services.

Amazon reportedly blamed the move on a number of factors, but it will likely mean that the third-party sellers pass the increased costs onto their customers, which turn will continue to add to inflationary pressure around the world.