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Amazon Taking a Closer Look at Racial Equity

Amazon has hired former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to conduct a racial equity audit of its almost 1 million hourly employees. According to Amazon, “The focus of the audit will be to evaluate any disparate racial impacts on our nearly one million US hourly employees resulting from our policies, programs, and practices.” Amazon says the audit will cover the largest portion of its workforce.

A former employee, who previously sued the company, urges a close reading of the announcement. She says the company’s audit will not look at “Amazon’s negative practices impacting Black employees at the corporate level.” The audit will also not evaluate hourly workers at Whole Foods Market or PillPack (both owned by Amazon). Shareholders had already placed a proposal for a broader racial equity audit to be voted on at the annual meeting. The broader audit would add covered salaried staff. Amazon’s board is advising shareholders to vote against that proposed audit.

The shareholders will also be considering a review of whether Amazon’s health and safety policies disproportionately cause injuries in women and people of color, while another shareholder proposal calls for changes to how Amazon reports the median pay for women and people of color. Amazon is also urging votes against these proposals. Employees have filed suits against Amazon for racial and gender discrimination at both the corporate and hourly employee levels.