Elizabeth George discusses company culture in light of the New York Times report on Amazon
This week, the New York Times reported that some Amazon employees at its corporate headquarters in Seattle cry at their desks amidst a culture of bullying and fear. It would be comforting to believe that what happens across the Atlantic is a far cry (no pun intended) from what happens in our own corporate culture. But I have heard too many not dissimilar tales from those working in British based businesses, to think that crying at your desk is, like peanut butter and jam sandwiches, a uniquely American phenomenon. Sadly, it just isn't.
And frankly, it comes as no surprise that many at the top end of the Amazon ladder report being as miserable as many of those at the bottom. True, they are probably not subjected to the timed toilet breaks, punishments for talking and zero hours contracts widely reported by various newspapers to apply to the company's many warehouse staff. But bullying comes in many forms. It may appear less brutal when dressed in a fine suit, or conducted in a plush office but the effect is just as nasty.
Equally unsurprising is the response from those at the very (very) top when presented with this type of expose. 'It is not the company I know' says Amazon's chief executive. I don't recall any business holding up its hands when presented with damning accounts from those who should know (its staff) of bullying. Probably because, they fear that lawyers, like me, will pounce upon them with glee, while beating a path to the door of the employment tribunal.
And true enough, I will keep beating a path - but not with glee. Glee does not involve litigation. Nor repeated tales of increasingly rotten working conditions. It is not insane working hours, impossible targets and timed toilet breaks. It is altogether different. And people weep less.