Amazon will undergo a race audit
Amazon.com Inc. said it has agreed to undergo an independent racial justice review and to join companies such as Citigroup Inc. and Tyson Foods Inc. in conducting such reviews.
The audit — an analysis of companies to determine whether their businesses cause and perpetuate discrimination — is being led by former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, a partner at the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, Amazon said in a proxy statement submitted Thursday.
The review will measure any diverse racial impact on Amazon’s US hourly workers resulting from policies, programs and practices, the world’s largest online retailer said. The Seattle-based company said it would release the results of the audit once it’s complete.
The New York State Common Retirement Fund filed a shareholder resolution with Amazon in 2021, calling for a racial scrutiny. The question cited alleged discrimination against the company’s black and Hispanic workers, their low wages and their exposure to hazardous working conditions, including Covid-19, and air pollution from distribution facilities in minority neighborhoods.
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Although the proposal failed, it received 44.2% of the vote, the highest of any race screening resolution tabled at last year’s shareholder meetings, according to Bloomberg Intelligence. The New York pension plan submitted a similar proposal to Amazon’s annual meeting on May 25.
Amazon advises shareholders to vote against the resolution as the company is now conducting an audit. A company spokesman referred to the power of attorney submitted last week.
Amazon joins other companies, including Citigroup, in agreeing to conduct racist audits after initially opposing it. They had spearheaded efforts such as funding historically black colleges and universities, conducting leadership programs for underrepresented minorities, and channeling tens of millions of dollars to help close the racial wealth divide.
Apple Inc. shareholders backed a call for a civil rights review of the tech giant last month — the first time such a resolution has passed. Airbnb Inc. was the first company to conduct a racist audit in 2016. Starbucks Corp. and Facebook Inc., now Meta Platforms Inc., followed.
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