Editor’s Note: Dave Clark is senior vice president of worldwide operations at Amazon. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own.
At Amazon’s fulfillment centers across the globe, we are proud of the safe work environment associates pick, pack and ship customer orders in every day.
We are proud to show off the innovative technology that enable us to fulfill customer orders.
And, most importantly, we are proud of the relationship we have with our hourly workforce.
On Monday, protesters created a lot of noise, calling for benefits Amazon already offers and improved working conditions. But there is a lot of misinformation out there about our working environment, our employer practices and our associates. It is important to emphasize Amazon provides good jobs with a lot of opportunity.
The fact is that just in the US, more than 250,000 Amazon associates work every day to deliver excellent customer experience – and they are compensated with industry-leading wages starting at $15 an hour, with comprehensive benefits which include medical coverage, a retirement fund and generous paid parental leave options.
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On top of these benefits, associates have access to continuing education funding, upskilling programs and avenues for mobility. While an entry-level Amazon manager needs to have a college degree, an associate with two years of Amazon experience can be promoted to a managerial salaried role without a degree. And if an associate wants to pursue in-demand careers outside of Amazon, we will pre-pay up to 95% of tuition and costs, with no expectation of repayment.
Our goal is simply to invest in the workforce. Last week, for example, we announced that we will spend $700 million to retrain nearly 100,000 workers.
We know our compensation packages and opportunities are exciting and competitive, but we know in this period of record-low unemployment that is not enough to attract job-seekers. In many places, there aren’t enough candidates for the many positions open.
Simply put, people would not want to work for Amazon if our working conditions are as our critics portray them to be. No one would work in our facilities. But 250,000 people choose to.
In fact, the number one recruiting arm for Amazon is our associates. Friends and family members of associates apply for jobs at Amazon all of the time because they see firsthand that we are committed to our employees, that we invest in their futures, and that we care about their safety.
In the month of June alone, we hired more than 5,000 full-time associates to work in our fulfillment centers – and we aren’t done. By the end of the summer, we expect to fill more than 15,000 full-time Amazon roles in fulfillment centers, and we are confident we will be able to fill those positions.
Employees are also the leading driver of improvement and innovation. I can’t think of a single quarter in which we haven’t made an improvement to our technology or processes without the associate experience as the catalyst of change. Often these changes are a result of direct feedback from employees – either through public channels, like team meetings or the Voice of Associate board, a platform where associates can share real-time feedback or concerns, or through private channels such as anonymous surveys and closed-door meetings with general managers. We treat all feedback with importance and respect, and this direct engagement is critical to our ability to innovate.
Is it possible for anyone or any company to get everything right, for every individual, in every operation around the world all of the time? Probably not, and we will be the first to admit we don’t always get it right. But recognizing we don’t always get it right simply isn’t enough, especially when it comes to the safety and well-being of our associates. That’s why every day, tens of thousands of Amazonians work incredibly hard to identify areas that need improvement and deliver meaningful solutions that will improve every facet of our business.
But don’t take my word for it. Take a tour of an Amazon fulfillment center and see for yourself. Few people realize just how rare it is for a logistics company to offer public tours of its facilities. The fact that we have opened the doors to the public of nearly 50 fulfillment centers across the globe should send a signal. We are proud.