In response to the New York Times much-read takedown of Amazon’s harsh workplace culture, CEO Jeff Bezos asked employees for stories that might reflect the alleged abusive practices — and one person has taken up his offer.
Beth Anderson, a spouse of a former Amazon
staff member who worked at the company from 2007 to 2013, wrote a public letter on Quartz, and unfortunately for Bezos, Anderson agrees with much of the details in the NYT story: “Many scenarios and anecdotes detailed in the article hit very close to home,” she wrote.
Specifically, Anderson takes issue with the constant need for her husband to be at the beck and call of the company. Working in a team that manages shipping warehouse software, Anderson’s husband was expected to respond to his pager within 15 minutes, or face repercussions from his manager: “If something came directly from you, Jeff, it was all hands on deck until that problem got figured out. No matter the emotional or physical toll,” Anderson wrote.
Eventually, managers pulled Anderson’s husband aside and told him he wasn’t hitting his goals. Under stress — and, Anderson mentions, after therapy — he left his job at Amazon. “It’s hard to know if the six years we spent at your company were worth it,” Anderson said.
Her story contrasts with other Amazon employees that debunk the NYT article, while other industry watchers have pointed out that this could be a reflection of norms inside offices of successful tech companies.