Move of the Week: Bray’s Amazon exit is a warning sign

Amazon protest

What impact will Covid-19 have on talent acquisition and retention? It’s a question I found myself pondering this week on reading the news that a senior Amazon executive has quit over its treatment of warehouse workers.

In a stinging rebuke of the tech giant’s ethical practices, vice-president Tim Bray described the sacking of warehouse staff who had protested about coronavirus safety measures as “evidence of a vein of toxicity running through the company culture”.

We should be cautious of drawing too many conclusions from Bray’s specific case. There may be more complex reasons for his disaffection with his employer than have been presented in his own blog post. Yet his resignation speaks to fundamental questions many of us are asking ourselves about the purpose of businesses and the extent to which we perceive them to be on our side (or not) during the pandemic, both as customers and as employees.

Which brings me to the subject of acquisition and retention. Logic dictates that as we emerge from this crisis those businesses still standing will have their pick of a hugely expanded talent pool. Amazon, it can be argued, will not pay for its alleged poor treatment of workers because there will be another dozen candidates with Tim Bray’s skillset ready to step into his shoes.

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