Santa Cruz Tech Beat


Amazon speaks out on minimum wage, climate change, diversity and inclusion, LGBTQ+, immigration, and more

(Source: Amazon website)

October 10, 2019 — Amazon headquarters, probably not Santa Cruz

Amazon write:

We created this page to provide customers, investors, policymakers, employees, and others our views on certain issues.

While our positions are carefully considered and deeply held, there is much room for healthy debate and differing opinions. We hope being clear about our positions is helpful.

The federal minimum wage in the U.S. is too low and should be raised. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 and has not increased since 2009. Raising the minimum wage would have a profound impact on the lives of tens of millions of individuals and families across the nation and help address growing income inequality. We pay a minimum wage of $15 an hour to all full-time, part-time, temporary (including those hired by agencies and delivery service providers), and seasonal employees across the U.S. This is on top of industry-leading, comprehensive benefits for employees. And our benefits are egalitarianall employees receive the same benefits, regardless of level or seniority. We are using our position as one of the nation’s largest employers to encourage other companies to raise their wages and to lobby members of Congress and state legislatures to raise the minimum wage.

Human-induced climate change is real, serious, and action is needed from the public and private sectors. The overwhelming majority of climate scientists agree that human activities are contributing to climate-warming trends over the past century, and most leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position. We agree, and have created The Climate Pledge – a commitment to reach the Paris Agreement 10 years early. We are innovating and investing to be net zero carbon by 2040 and run on 100% renewable energy by 2030. We are purchasing 100,000 fully-electric delivery vehicles, the largest order ever for electric delivery vehicles, and investing $100 million in nature-based climate solutions and reforestation projects around the world to begin removing carbon from the atmosphere now. Our sustainability website provides comprehensive reporting on our carbon footprint and progress on our commitments.

The energy industry should have access to the same technologies as other industries. We will continue to provide cloud services to companies in the energy industry to make their legacy businesses less carbon intensive and help them accelerate development of renewable energy businesses. We support sustainability programs for our own business, and work with partners to reduce their demand for carbon fuel sources.

Diversity and inclusion are good for business—and more fundamentally—simply right. Customers represent a wide array of genders, races, ethnicities, abilities, ages, religions, sexual orientations, military status, backgrounds, and political views. It’s critical that Amazon employees are also diverse and that we foster a culture where inclusion is the norm. Amazon prioritizes equal pay, and since we’ve been measuring and publishing the ratio over the past several years, women have earned between 99.5 and 101.5 cents for every dollar that men have earned in the same jobs. We also believe it’s critical that we increase opportunity for underrepresented groups to enter the technology workforce. We created the Amazon Future Engineer program, a four-part, childhood-to-career program that works to inspire and educate 10 million children and young adults each year from underprivileged, underrepresented, and underserved communities to pursue careers in the fast-growing field of computer science and coding. It’s not only that diversity and inclusion are good for business—it’s more fundamental than that—it’s simply right.

The rights of LGBTQ+ people must be protected. We were early and strong supporters of marriage equality and will continue to advocate for protections and equal rights for transgender people. We stand together with the LGBTQ community and are working at the U.S. federal and state level on legislation, including supporting passage of the Equality Act. Amazon provides gender transition benefits based on the Standards of Care published by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH). We received a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s (HRC) “Corporate Equality Index” for the last three years.

We strongly support the rights of immigrants and immigration reform. Amazon believes the U.S. should welcome the best and the brightest talent from around the world. It’s imperative for our country’s competitiveness. Amazon has more than 300,000 employees in the U.S. from all backgrounds who are dedicated to inventing on behalf of and serving our customers. We support and lobby for immigration reform, including a legal pathway to citizenship for Dreamers and reforms to the green card and high-skilled visa programs, as well as actively participating in legal challenges to the travel ban.

Governments at all levels—federal, state, and local—should have access to the best technology. Harnessing the capabilities of advanced technology such as the cloud and machine learning are important to the ongoing safety and security of the country, its citizens, our communities, and the world. We will continue to provide U.S. government and law enforcement agencies access to the most advanced technology.

Governments should work quickly to put in place a regulatory framework for facial recognition technology. Facial recognition technology is already solving some complex problems. For example, Amazon Rekognition has helped locate more than 100 missing children and identify more than 5,000 child sex trafficking victims. Like most technology, facial recognition is two sided, meaning it can also be misused. We provide guidance to all Rekognition customers, including law enforcement customers, on the technology’s proper use and have a clear Acceptable Use Policy. However, we think that governments should act to regulate the use of this technology to ensure it’s used appropriately, and we have proposed guidelines for an appropriate U.S. national legislative framework that protects individual civil rights and ensures that governments are transparent in their application of the technology.

Counterfeiters should receive stronger penalties under federal law. Counterfeit is one of the few crimes specifically prohibited by the U.S. Constitution, yet bad actors are undeterred and continue to push their products through online and physical stores, harming both consumers and the retail companies who serve them. In 2018, we invested more than $400 million in personnel and preventative tools built on machine learning and data science, and employed more than 4,000 employees to fight fraud and counterfeiting in our stores. Last year alone, our proactive efforts prevented more than 1 million suspected bad actors from opening Amazon seller accounts and blocked more than 3 billion suspected bad listings. Amazon supports and lobbies for U.S. federal policies that make intellectual property violations crimes with meaningful penalties, and for law enforcement to have resources to appropriately prosecute these crimes. We also support a requirement that every package imported into the U.S. clearly identify the person or entity responsible for shipping the product.

Consumer data privacy should be protected under federal law. We have built privacy into our services from the ground up, and we never sell individual customer data. Many core features of the customer experience at Amazon depend on us using data responsibly and transparently. Our customer-centric approach has led us to follow privacy-by-design principles since our founding. We disclose in our privacy notice the types of data we collect and the limited circumstances in which we share customer data with third parties. We support U.S. federal privacy legislation that requires transparency, access to personal information, ability to delete personal information, and that prohibits the sale of personal data without consent.

Corporate tax codes should incentivize investment in the economy and job creation. Corporate tax codes in any country should incentivize investment in the economy and job creation. In addition, tax codes, particularly between countries, should be coordinated to have neither loopholes that permit artificially lower tax rates nor overlaps that cause higher tax rates or redundant taxation, because these distort company behavior in ways that don’t benefit consumers or the economy. We support the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and its work with global governments to review the international tax system and secure consensus on these points.


Originally published here:



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