Whereas Jeff Bezos scored just a few wins at his final shareholders assembly earlier than resigning as Amazon’s chief govt, he acknowledged that the corporate has a variety of work to do to handle points associated to local weather and security within the office, emphasizing that has extra modifications forward.
“In my 2002 letter to shareholders, I addressed that query [of innovation] head on, “stated Bezos, who based the corporate in 1994.” I stated I believed there was extra innovation forward than behind us. I’ve little question that it’s nonetheless true. “
It was a singular second for an organization that he constructed from a fledgling on-line used bookselling firm working from its suburban Seattle storage to the second-largest employer within the nation. On Wednesday, shareholders rejected 10 proposals starting from how the corporate handles its local weather issues to race and gender disparities throughout the workforce. However Bezos acknowledged that these issues include operating a big firm.
“We acknowledge that with success comes scrutiny and we recognize it,” he informed traders. “Our targets are in step with the targets of competitors, low costs, big range, comfort, and ever-improving innovation and risk-taking. We welcome scrutiny. “
It has clearly been a file yr for Amazon. Whereas Walmart stays bigger than Amazon in total income, Amazon’s meteoric gross sales through the pandemic have solely elevated its dominance in e-commerce. Amazon’s share of US e-commerce gross sales is predicted to extend from about 39.eight % in 2020 to 40.four % in 2021, in keeping with eMarketer.
Bezos informed shareholders Wednesday that he credit the corporate’s “start-up” working mannequin for its success.
“Our complete historical past as an organization is about taking dangers,” he stated. “We are going to proceed to take huge dangers, it’s a huge a part of what has made Amazon profitable.”
The shareholders’ assembly adopted a historic day for the corporate after it introduced the acquisition of MGM Studios for $ eight.5 billion, which might bolster its roster of Amazon Prime streaming content material, together with the James Bond and “Rocky” franchises. . The research’s acquisition is Amazon’s second-largest buy after the $ 13.7 billion buy of Complete Meals Market in 2017.
“MGM has an enormous and deep catalog of much-loved mental property,” Bezos stated Wednesday. “And with the proficient people at MGM and Amazon studios, we are able to reinvent and develop that mental property for the 21st century. It is going to be a variety of enjoyable work and individuals who love tales would be the huge beneficiaries. “
When Bezos takes a full-time place as chairman of the board, he leaves an organization that has turn into the second-largest employer within the nation, with greater than 1 million staff. As the corporate has gone for pace to fulfill client calls for, Amazon staff have began organizing to enhance their working situations.
For the previous yr, staff have organized solidarity campaigns, strikes, protests, and strikes in warehouses throughout the US, together with in Chicago, New York, Minneapolis, Iowa Metropolis, Iowa, Sacramento, and the Inland Empire of California, Salem, Oregon. and King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. Amazon has responded with intense anti-union campaigns, together with in Bessemer, Alabama, the place staff lastly voted towards forming a union in April.
Elsewhere, Amazon has confronted allegations of retaliation towards organizers, resulting in dozens of costs introduced towards the corporate earlier than the Nationwide Labor Relations Board. Bezos wrote in a letter to shareholders that, in keeping with information stories, “he would possibly suppose we do not care about workers.”
“In these stories, our workers are typically accused of being determined souls and handled like robots,” he stated, including that it isn’t correct. About 94 % of workers would advocate Amazon to a buddy as a spot to work, he stated.
However shareholders rejected a proposal Wednesday to position an hourly employee on the board to instantly assess and tackle the dangers they face. It additionally did not approve proposals for a racial equity audit of its insurance policies, practices, services and products to take a look at how its therapy of staff and applied sciences, corresponding to Ring and Amazon Rekognition, disproportionately hurt or discriminate towards folks of shade.
Bezos informed shareholders that the corporate has lowered office stress accidents by 32 % between 2019 and 2020 and that the corporate’s $ 15 minimal wage has led to an total improve in wages for workers. employers.
Amazon’s dominance has additionally prompted lawmakers and authorized students to voice considerations and take motion on its impression on shoppers and competitors. This week, Washington, DC, Legal professional Common Karl Racine charged the corporate with antitrust violations alleging that its “honest pricing coverage” on its community of out of doors distributors unfairly raised costs for shoppers through the early months of the pandemic and suppressed the innovation.
However Jack Evans, an Amazon spokesman, stated in an e-mail that “the DC lawyer basic says it precisely the opposite method round: Sellers set their very own costs for the merchandise they provide in our retailer.” He added that “Amazon prides itself on the truth that we provide low costs on the widest choice and, like several retailer, we reserve the correct to not spotlight presents to clients who will not be competitively priced.”
The lawsuit led by Racine comes practically a yr after Bezos, together with CEOs of the nation’s prime tech corporations, together with Fb, Google and Apple, testified earlier than the Home Judiciary Committee on antitrust practices. There, Bezos informed the committee that he “can’t assure” that the corporate has by no means used third-party vendor knowledge to bolster its personal model gross sales, a apply that will quantity to anti-competitive habits.
Nonetheless, a shareholder proposal to institute a “robust board oversight” group to handle dangers associated to anti-competitive practices was not accredited Wednesday.
Local weather challenges
Bezos additionally made certain to handle the challenges the corporate has been dealing with with its dealing with of climate points. Beginning in 2019, Amazon staff with the Amazon Staff for Local weather Justice group have used their shareholder positions to current climate-related proposals and set up internally to advocate for stronger motion round local weather justice.
Amazon efficiently blocked consideration of a proposal this yr that will have improved its emissions targets and addressed the environmental harm to its logistics community within the Black, Latino, Indian and immigrant neighborhoods the place its distribution facilities are positioned.
However Bezos stated the corporate is shifting towards its purpose of powering all of its companies with 100 % renewable power by 2025 and continues to signal startups with its pledge to attain internet zero emissions by 2040.
Amazon Staff for Local weather Justice stated in an emailed assertion Wednesday that the corporate wanted to do extra. “Amazon wants to finish the fundamental first step of acknowledging the harm accomplished after which taking motion to repair the issue at Amazon’s scale by deploying zero-emission applied sciences within the hardest-hit communities first.”