As a business owner (and someone who has worked in the corporate world for more than 30 years), I found The New York Times story on the Amazon corporate culture to be appalling.
Supported by interviews with more than 100 current and former employees, NYT found a culture that encourages employees to backbite their peers, toil long hours, rarely take vacations and avoid any personal complications. The story outlined examples of employees who were docked performance ratings because they missed time to treat cancer and a company-wide rating list of employees was instituted to fire the bottom ones on the list.
To me, that doesn’t sound like a company that fosters innovation, growth and team building. (That’s especially true when you compare that culture to what takes place at other tech companies, such as Google and Facebook.)
The true effect of the Amazon NYT story.
But, as a brand guy, I can’t see this having much impact on Amazon’s effectiveness in its market. Truth be told, consumers don’t care.
I say that even though the NYT piece is currently trending on social media and mainstream media outlets are reporting on it, with the Amazon story being one of the lead stories on The Today Show this morning. (Following an interview with Donald Trump, of course.)
But we’ve seen something like this before. While it wasn’t about the demands of its corporate culture, Walmart has been known for barely paying employees a livable wage, and the fast food industry has that same reputation. Many of the employees at Walmart and in the fast food industry are paid so little they are living below the poverty level.
While the fast food industry’s sales are slipping, that’s because of a shift in the eating habits of consumers. It’s not because of a form of protest.
And Walmart continues to be the giant amid the Lilliputians of the rest of the retail industry. It accounts for more than 2% of the gross national product in the US and far outsells the competition.
No, the blowback on Amazon will only come in the form of recruiting and retaining employees, which will have its own long-term ramifications to be sure. It will not affect its bottom line right now because it has a brand to protect itself.
We’ve seen this issue before. And, if you have a brand that is coveted by the marketplace, then the marketplace will sadly shrug and keep on buying.