I have been reading the various articles, commentaries and analysis that The New York Times Amazon article has generated over the last week. Shock and outrage at the conditions white-collar workers experience at Amazon, as well as support for those conditions is all over the internet. This is how it should be – discussion, review, analysis, commentary – that is the sign of a healthy society. North Americans and many countries around the world have the freedom to discuss and debate any number of ideas, practices, concepts, etc. without concern and that is a very good thing.
Google has one form of corporate culture and Amazon has another. As a person trying to gain employment at either company you can choose which culture you prefer and aim to be hired by that company. There is choice here and many different types of corporate culture in between the two that I am sure is also available to those who have the skills and knowledge to work at any tech company. While younger you may choose to work in a hard driving culture like Amazon and then as you marry, start a family or simply no longer want to put in those kinds of hours choose to leave and find a more suitable company for the next part of your life. The point is you have a choice, so choose consciously what you want for your life.
Regardless of the hard driving or laid back nature of a company’s culture what I see as never acceptable is the need to be vicious, opportunistic, belittling, lacking in compassion or any other calculated negative action that diminishes your co-workers as a human being. I very much disliked the “anonymous reporting tool” to report on a co-worker’s performance or lack thereof. I also think it is totally unnecessary to make someone cry, feel inadequate or foolish when they have presented an idea as requested only to have it ridiculed and judged harshly in a personal attack. There are intelligent, appropriate ways to communicate that do not involve bully tactics, nastiness and mob mentality. Poor management is poor management regardless of the success of a company overall. Conscious leadership that fosters a conscious culture can create the same success that company’s like Amazon, with a much more combative and cut-throat culture, have achieved. Additionally, as noted in another article on Medium, by Dustin Moskovitz, a co-founder of Facebook, productivity drops off when unreasonable expectations are placed on employees for an extended period of time.
People are complex creatures requiring physical, mental and spiritual fulfillment through a variety of experiences including time spent in nature, time spent serving others (not customers) and time spent reflecting on their deepest self. If this time is not afforded, recognized or encouraged because “work” dominates their life then they become dis-functional, dis-eased, and seriously dis-connected from being human. This allows for callousness, disdain, disregard and antipathy towards others and towards our planet to thrive and flourish, creating even greater inhumanity and destruction. That is the real problem with Amazon – the lack of concern for the unending pursuit of consumption that they promote, encourage and push through every instance of instant gratification like their new 1-hour wine delivery in the Seattle area or their drone delivery idea or their Dash Button for specific products. Great innovations but a horrifying promotion of more and more products delivered faster and faster without any need to think, consider or evaluate whether you actually need the product, which company you should be supporting with your purchase (exploitative or conscious) and what impact your purchase is having on the planet. Ease, convenience, thoughtlessness in our purchases with no connection to the seller, the producer or any other human being sets up a society, a culture, a country and a world that is soulless, disconnected and ultimately destructive to everyone and everything. This is the real problem with Amazon’s pursuit to be the one world source for all your consumer purchases, feeding our wants like a “pusher” feeds a drug habit.
We need to read the New York Times article and the articles pointing out the dreadful conditions in Amazon’s warehouses and see that this is not a just or conscious business model that can be sustained. It has no place in our world today and a wholesale re-evaluation of the way we do things, what we value and the impact our greed, consumption and callousness is having on the planet and on people must take place. We need to become informed, to think and to choose what is the best way to expend our energy, our time and our efforts so that we have healthy people and a healthy planet today and for generations to come. Delivery drones, 50+ hour work weeks, data managed performance reviews and instant order buttons are not the way to achieve a sustainable, just and consciously evolved future.
Learn, think, choose and evolve internally so you can have an impact externally in creating a positive, sustainable future that values being human over being an efficient supplier to unthinking consumers.