Amazon’s thunderous response to equality accusations

About a week ago, Amazon was accused, by proxy, of failing to promote gender equality where salaries are concerned. The issue stemmed from the company’s request that language related to gender equality not be included in conversations conducted by and for stockholders at upcoming meetings. This request, which the company likely felt was simple, led to a massive firestorm of criticism. Amazon did not take this passively. The company fired back with vigor … and with facts.

According to reports by CNN, Amazon claims women earn just as much as men. After conducting a survey of its staff, Amazon learned that women make 99.9 percent of men’s earnings in equivalent positions. Minorities make even more than certain white counterparts.
“There will naturally be slight fluctuations from year to year, but at Amazon we are committed to keeping compensation fair and equitable,” an Amazon spokesman said in a statement.

The watchdog group that set off this process – Arjuna – said they were happy Amazon decided to play ball. Initially, the company rebuffed requests to release pay data. They also hailed the release as a victory for their cause – equality and transparency in pay.

The scenario is a clear indicator of where we are culturally when it comes to social pressure on major corporations. Not too long ago, this sort of targeted finger pointing – especially by groups with absolutely no facts – would be laughed off. Companies could simply ignore the jibes and go about their day. Not in the age of the internet. It didn’t matter that Arjuna had absolutely no data. All they had to say is: “prove you don’t discriminate” and they had an endless chorus of supporters from all corners of the internet.

“Fair? Not remotely. But fair is not an operable word in public relations. People get tarred and featured all the time without cause. Some people who should be lambasted get off scot free. It’s the nature of the game.”, says NY entrepreneur Jonah Engler. Engler contiues on to say, “If you have a strong and consistent message, you can weather these storms, but if you’re vulnerable, someone will find that chink in your armor and exploit it.”

Amazon may not have anticipated the accusations from Arjuna, but they were ready for them, and gave back as good – or better – than they got. They answered doubt with facts, questions with certainty. Sure, Arjuna can pretend it’s a win for their cause, but suddenly, a week after being accused of being unfair to women, Amazon stands as a model of pay equality.


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