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Amazon Releases (Not Many) Details On Its Workforce Demographics 123

theodp (442580) writes Late to the table on disclosing workforce demographics, Amazon posted a diversity report to its website on Halloween, revealing that its global work force is 63% male and 37% female, while in the U.S., its work force is 60% white, 15% black, 13% Asian and 9% Hispanic. More lacking in granular detail than the less-than-transparent diversity data provided by its tech peers, Rainbow PUSH said Amazon's numbers were not as good as they appeared, and criticized the company for a lack of candor. "Their general work force data released by Amazon seems intentionally deceptive, as the company did not include the race or gender breakout of their technical work force," PUSH said in a statement. "The broad assumption is that a high percentage of their black and Latino employees work in their warehouses." Following the lead of other tech companies, Diversity at Amazon suggests the e-tailer's undisclosed-but-presumed lack of tech diversity could be blamed on "female students and students of color [who] are opting out of technology and engineering" as early as middle school and high school. Taking a page from Google's playbook, Amazon pointed to its involvement with the Anita Borg Institute, Code.org, Girls Who Code, and the National Center for Women & Information Technology as ways the company's addressing tech diversity deficiencies.
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Amazon Releases (Not Many) Details On Its Workforce Demographics

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  • by fche ( 36607 ) on Monday November 03, 2014 @09:16AM (#48300209)

    That organization has embodied weaponized identity politics to such an extent that an article quoting them non-ironically deserves dismissal.

    • by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Monday November 03, 2014 @09:39AM (#48300315)

      Any company looking to please an organization like that is wasting their time. They're basically just an extortion racket.

    • by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Monday November 03, 2014 @09:47AM (#48300367)

      That organization has embodied weaponized identity politics to such an extent that an article quoting them non-ironically deserves dismissal.

      http://articles.philly.com/200... [philly.com]

      read that...
      Most civil rights leaders are good people. But Jessi Jackson and Al Sharpton are crooks. Sharpton should literally be in prison. Those 2 have done more to harm the black community than any other modern political leader.

      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by slashdice ( 3722985 )
        well, other than Barack Obama.
      • Those 2 have done more to harm the black community than any other modern political leader.

        Your poor grammar notwithstanding, I'd think that the black community could make their own choices on who their leaders are and don't don't need white folk telling them which of their leaders are effective. Especially when it's the lazy white press who keeps more effective (albeit less visually stimulating) leaders in the shadows.

        But whatever you want to say about them, it is still undeniable that there is racism in t

        • by jzilla ( 256016 ) on Monday November 03, 2014 @12:11PM (#48301459) Homepage

          I'd think that the black community could make their own choices on who their leaders are and don't don't need white folk telling them which of their leaders are effective. Especially when it's the lazy white press who keeps more effective (albeit less visually stimulating) leaders in the shadows.

          Neither Jessie Jackson or Al Sharpton have ever been elected or othrewise "choosen" by the black community. It is hard not to despise people who make their fortune on the backs of the people they claim to represent, like these two have.

        • by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Monday November 03, 2014 @12:54PM (#48301913)

          I am part of the black community. My sons black, I'm white. I go to "The Black American PTA meetings" as well as all of the black heritage festivals/meetings/conferences (and let me tell you, there are a LOT of them) even blended family clinics, and all that sort of stuff. The lack of black leaders and trying to get the community to stop idealizing sports stars is usually at the top of their agenda. Barrack Obama getting elected was probably the most important thing to ever happen to the black community in this country. My son has literally asked me to paint him white before. That's a hard thing for a father to take. My kids a handsome guy, and when he gets older the ladies will really dig him. But when he looks up to adults, who out there is successful and brown? Now I can point to the most powerful man in the free world and his skins the same shade.

          As far as racism goes... yes. It's a big problem. Having a black son makes it abundantly clear. In the white community there's a lot of stupidity. "Why didn't you just get a kid from Murica!" and stuff like that. The only overt racism I've run into as been from the black community. But it was very few and far between and I only had one incident where the person flat out said I shouldn't be allowed to have that child, etc... But I chose to take that as concern for my son and took it in a positive light. They were hating on me and not my kid. I can deal with that.

          Things might change when he's older. He's only 6 now. But he will have to get warned about the police. Now that I'm more concerned with the problem I see directly what the police do. The other day I went to the mall and the highschool let out for lunch so kids were walking through the parking lot to get to the food court. Cops rolled up on the 2 clicks of black males. None of the white kids were bothered. I started walking over to the squad car and then thought better of it.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            I have to say that a lot of the race talk these days does appear to come from blacks...

            I'm white... I couldn't care less what color you are, you're a human being, just like me...

            Yet between the media and other "leaders" like Jesse Jackson, it is race this and race that. I'm tired of it.

            Those police rolled up on the black kids for a reason. Black kids commit more crimes than white kids do, look at the number of them in prison...

            That isn't your fault, but the culture of black people needs to change. I do

            • That's not true. You're applying popular culture stereotypes to reality. For example, when I was a teenager, I had long hair and was into metal like Slayer and King Diamond. As a result many people thought I was a devil worshiper. Of course I wasn't... It makes no logical sense to worship the devil. lol

              The same goes for Black popular culture. The bad guys are glamorized. Most black youth are no more robbers and thugs than I was a devil worshiper. I suspect that if you compared white crime with black crime,

              • I suspect that if you compared white crime with black crime, money stolen by whites would completely dwarf crime committed by blacks. Bernie Madoff anyone? Why does a 16yr old black kid deserve any more attention than some accountant in the same parking lot that's been embezzling money from his work for the past 3yrs?

                Because Bernie Madoff didn't use a gun or a knife to take his loot.

                Black kids do far more violent crime per capita than white kids do.

                http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cj... [fbi.gov]

                For murders, it is about 50/50 for whites and blacks. Except that we have FAR more white people than black people.

                Stereotypes usually have some basis in reality.

                • According to your own chart there were 6.6million whites arrested and 2.7million blacks arrested.
                  In this country there are 197 million whites, 65 million blacks.
                  Therefor white crime rate is 3.33% and the black crime rate is 4.15% (this is of course not counting repeat offenses, your chart doesn't give me a way to calculate that)
                  That's using regular math from the FBI's stats. So African American's have a 0.8% increased risk of crime. So maybe it makes sense that they are at least slightly more prone to viole

                  • According to your own chart there were 6.6million whites arrested and 2.7million blacks arrested.

                    You're looking at numbers of arrested? Meh, that doesn't mean much... Try the violent crime numbers, those are more interesting...

                    How about murders? Almost 50/50 split between white and black. Black people are three times more likely to commit a murder than white people.

                    Or so say the numbers. I would be willing to accept that some of that difference is due to more liberal prosecution of blacks over whites, I don't deny that exists.

                    But triple? That's a lot.

                    You bring up poverty... You're right, that is

            • by Anonymous Coward

              Those police rolled up on the black kids for a reason. Black kids commit more crimes than white kids do, look at the number of them in prison...

              You're wrong. Black people and white people use drugs such as marijuana at the same rates in every study done. Black people are FAR more likely to be stopped, searched and arrested for simple possession though. Think about it. If you "know" black people are criminals, then you will stop them more often. Even though they don't use anymore than whites, they will be stopped and arrested more often. White kids (sometimes) get breaks and not charge, or probation. Blacks don't get those breaks as often.

              And I say

              • Black people are FAR more likely to be stopped, searched and arrested for simple possession though.

                Perhaps, but they are also FAR more likely to commit violent crime such as murder.

                Whites outnumber blacks by 4 to 1 in this county, yet both groups commit about equal numbers of murders.

        • by stdarg ( 456557 )

          I'd think that the black community could make their own choices on who their leaders are and don't don't need white folk telling them which of their leaders are effective

          Unbelievable arrogance.

          1. The black community is not monolithic. "They" do not make choices. Black people make choices.
          2. White people can have an opinion on something and black people can have an opinion on the same thing. They can even disagree! There's no need to shield black people from exposure to opinions by other people.

          Better check yourself for racism bud.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, they should look at what happened to the Nazis, precisely the same thing, without the extermination part, so far...

      Is this a Jesse Jackson thing? He is today's Joseph Goebbels... Nothing but trouble, like the black Al Haig, saying, *I'm in charge here.*, after King was shot. It's a shame to see anybody following him and Sharpton.

    • Organizations like this are fatally lazy, in that they like to quote statistics and suggest that any incomplete data must be hiding something nefarious-- rather than doing the investigation themselves. They're afraid they'll find out that there is no barrier of racism in place-- that the issue is cultural, economic, or governmental, and thus their bigoted organization will become redundant.
      • "Organizations like this are fatally lazy, in that they like to quote statistics and suggest that any incomplete data must be hiding something nefarious-- rather than doing the investigation themselves."

        In lots of civilized countries where these companies have their businesses, it' is forbidden by law to make racial, religious an other records of citizens, for employees it's a serious No-No.

        If Amazon Germany or France would present a report with racial details, the justice would fall on them like several th

        • In America, the federal government requires companies to track all of this but forbids companies to actually use the information. Federal law in the US basically requires companies to collect evidence that they are or are not breaking racial laws.

          It sucks, but so do many aspects of law in all countries.

  • Diversity bullshit (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 03, 2014 @09:21AM (#48300233)

    What is the diversity deficiency really mean? Asians are overrepresented as a share of the general population, there seems to be underrepresention in whites. Why do Asians not count for the purposes of this diversity calculation?

    Let's be honest and admit you really want more blacks admitted at the expense of other groups. That's what the diversity these race baiters really want.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 03, 2014 @09:45AM (#48300345)

      "Diversity" groups don't like to talk about Asians because they disprove the myth than a once-oppressed race in the U.S. can never overcome their oppression through hard work and education. They're embarrassed that Asians don't just sit around on their asses blaming white people for all their problems.

  • Fill the Gap (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CycloneGT ( 3716551 )
    Why are Women and Minorities (not including Male Asians) being permitted to opt out of technology education? If anyone is going to take this problem seriously, those under-served communities need to be disproportionally encouraged to peruse technology education.
    • Re:Fill the Gap (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Monday November 03, 2014 @09:43AM (#48300333)

      Why are Women and Minorities (not including Male Asians) being permitted to opt out of technology education?

      This! Skin pigment and chromosonal quota perfection in every walk of life is so much more important than any other thing that might make someone choose something else to do that we should force people to study things in which they're not interested. Because that way, we can be sure that they'll be passionate about hating it even more, so that when they apply for that quota-mandated position, we know they'll be miserable SOBs to work with, and productivity will be sure to suffer, for which we'll be sure to blame Evil Corporations.

      Jesse Jackson is a hypocritical, lying fool. His agenda (which is to extort money from public and private institutions so that he and his entourage can spend their time well compensated for doing nothing but whining) is utterly transparent. But it plugs right into the Nanny State world view, which requires professional quota referees for every last thing, including the size of your drink cup and the precise tone of the skin of the programmer in the cube next to you.

      Jackson is complaining that Amazon's stats aren't precise enough, but I notice he's not calling for stats about the measured skills and academic records of the couldn't-get-hired-there folks he thinks should be qualified strictly on cosmetic grounds. If he thinks that the members of a particular racial group aren't landing enough jobs at Amazon, he should be turning to that group and lecturing them about developing the critical thinking, communication, technical, entrepreneurial, scientific, and related skills that make someone a shoe-in for such jobs. ALL of that starts at home, and is pretty well viable or terminally broken by the time a kid is half way through elementary school. And THAT is all about the culture out of which that kid emerges. About which Jackson should be doing some serious introspection, if he could stand to look at himself in the mirror. He not only deliberately confuses race with culture, but he deliberately confuses cause and effect - all so that he can thunder on about it, threaten boycotts, and receive grant money from his extortion victims. This is just another round of his racketeering outfit doing what it does.

    • by bhv ( 178640 )

      I recall empty seats in some university level tech classes while some were told the class was full. Apparently the empty seats were for non-attending (non-registered) minorities.

      So not only are minorities not taking advantage of the education available, but they are interfering with the education of those that want to be there.

  • by jratcliffe ( 208809 ) on Monday November 03, 2014 @09:30AM (#48300263)

    Comparing Amazon to Google or Facebook, is really apples-to-oranges, given that they're in very different businesses.

    • Exactly. Although I'm sure that Amazon has a lot of technical people that work for them, as do Google and Facebook, there's also a lot of non-technical employees, such as those who work in the warehouses, which you would likely not find at Google and Facebook. People like to compare them just because their main services are offered through a website, but other than that, they are about as unrelated as you can get.
      • Agreed. I'd bet real money that the delta between the mean and median salary at Amazon is a lot bigger than at Facebook or Google.

    • Last I checked Seattle is also a hell of a lot whiter than Silicon Valley.

      According to BestPlaces.net
      Seattle 70.60% White
      San Jose, CA 47.00% White
      Mountain View, CA 59.70% White

  • by Gordo_1 ( 256312 ) on Monday November 03, 2014 @09:31AM (#48300269)

    I'm just not sure how much I hold them responsible for lack of diversity in their ranks. Show me the diversity in the set of resumes they receive and interviews they conduct and I'll get on your bandwagon, but until then my experience says that the reasons for lack of diversity begin much earlier in the funnel.

    • by Jaime2 ( 824950 ) on Monday November 03, 2014 @10:02AM (#48300463)

      If the diversity of new hires is significantly different from the diversity of resumes, that is potential evidence of hiring discrimination. If the diversity of resumes is significantly different from the makeup of the community, then the company has obligations under Affirmative Action to actively seek resumes of underrepresented minorities. Affirmative Action was implemented the way it is specifically because the problem is earlier in the funnel and makes an easy excuse for lack of diversity in the workplace.

      In other words, none of the numbers that are being discussed matter. Given the environment today, it is expected that minorities should be underrepresented at tech companies. There is no cutoff number between a good company and a bad company. Two things matter - are they acting fairly on the resumes they receive (as you stated), and are they being proactive to encourage minorities to apply. Neither of these can be inferred from the data presented. PUSH is using this uncertainty to make its own unfounded claims. Amazon's best course of action would be to disclose more information to shut them up.

      • by fche ( 36607 )

        " the company has obligations under Affirmative Action "

        "affirmative action" is not an obligation. It is a (poor) choice.

        • by Jaime2 ( 824950 )

          Only if misunderstood. If you believe Affirmative Action restricts your ability to hire whomever you want, then you don't understand it.

          The ideal outcome of Affirmative Action is that you find a great employee that you never would have found before. Everyone wins. In general AA does have some costs - specifically it requires companies to expend recruiting effort in areas that are likely to be less fruitful than they would have otherwise. But it balances against the "let's ask everyone we know if they know a

          • by fche ( 36607 )

            "Everyone wins."

            Not the person farther down the Desirable Minority totem pole who was overlooked.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Everyone wins.

            I have a cousin who was turned away from schools for gender/race reasons, because Affirmative Action said the school had too many of that particular gender/race.

            Tell me again how everyone wins?

            • by Jaime2 ( 824950 )
              There are a lot of schools that are misinterpreting AA. The Supreme Court is even slapping some of them down [wikipedia.org]. So, no, I don't think a school doing something that isn't a legal implementation of Affirmative Action says anything bad at all about Affirmative Action itself.
      • by Nemyst ( 1383049 )

        If the diversity of resumes is significantly different from the makeup of the community, then the company has obligations under Affirmative Action to actively seek resumes of underrepresented minorities.

        I think that should be the first thing to investigate: is the diversity of resumes diferent from the makeup of the community? As a student in comp sci, I can tell you that thus far I've seen an overwhelming majority of white males. Women are rare, blacks are rare, hispanics are rare, even asians are rare. I don't claim this to be representative, but I think we should start at the source instead of blaming a company for it. If the job seekers of that particular ethnicity/gender just aren't there, what are th

        • by Jaime2 ( 824950 )

          I think that should be the first thing to investigate: is the diversity of resumes diferent from the makeup of the community?

          Good point. Amazon didn't disclose enough information to infer this.

          If the job seekers of that particular ethnicity/gender just aren't there, what are they going to do?

          Make a good faith effort. All that Affirmative Action has ever required of anyone is to try. They may even be doing it. If so, they should disclose the data to put the argument to rest.

      • I would suggest that their best course of action is to just give PUSH the finger and tell them to shut up.
      • For these numbers to be true, people of Indian descent must be classified as White vs. Asian.
  • Not everyone can do the job, you need the best. If there's an opening and 1000 white guys apply and one black guy applies, does the latter get the job just because he's black? How is that fair? They should all be interviewed and may the most skilled win. In the warehouse, anyone can do that job, and only there should diversity be equal.

    • If there's an opening and 1000 white guys apply and one black guy applies, does the latter get the job just because he's black?

      to the politically correct crowd, if he doesnt get the job, the company is racist. even though in a pool of 1001, and with only 1 job opening, he has a 1 in 1001 chance of being the best.

      • by mythosaz ( 572040 ) on Monday November 03, 2014 @02:10PM (#48302737)

        The problem isn't hiring the 1 or one of the 1,000.

        It's also not a problem if your 1001 qualified applicants were the entire pool of available applicants.

        It's only a problem if you didn't fairly seek out qualified applicants. If you posted your job only on White World Magazine, then you've got a problem.

        I worked for a company in the late 90's that was founded by a number of ex-military types. They started actively recruiting ex-military officers. While that certainly sounded to them like a great way to get like-minded people who had a good work ethic and shared their idea of structure and order, it skewed their candidate pool drastically toward white males. They weren't casting the net wide enough.

        From a hiring perspective, that's all you have to do -- make sure you're casting the net wide enough, and then fairly choose the best applicants.

  • They'll get no more of my money until Bezos has a sex change.

  • by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Monday November 03, 2014 @10:05AM (#48300477) Homepage

    Google, Facebook, etc. need to just come out and say it: there are simply not that many blacks and Hispanics getting the basic credentials required to even sit for the interview. Demanding "diversity" then is literally demanding a lowering of standards to the point that people who would never be hired there can have a shot. There's no other way to read the demand. It's magical thinking at best and at worst, resembles the sort of logic that in Africa lead to confiscating white-owned farms and giving them to black Africans who had no clue how to run a farm.

  • I keep hearing about "women in technology " and such on Slashdot. Is there some new programming language or something that involves the worker using their genitals to do the job? Something new that makes one's crotch relevant in IT?

    • Yes. Because it take a pair of balls to tell the CEO the e-mail server crashed in the middle of an audit.

      j/k

    • by Shados ( 741919 ) on Monday November 03, 2014 @10:26AM (#48300645)

      Generally the idea is that a broader diversity of backgrounds allows more ideas to pop up, which can mean better software.

      In practice, its tricky, because the argument mixes "Both genders are equal! They can do anything the other can!" while at the same time going "One gender can give a different perspective on things because they think differently and approach problems differently!".

      A more practical example could be: part of your customer base is female. Having more women on staff could help you get the appropriate perspective to better target them.

      The issue with that is: A) companies that have UX departments already have a lot of women in it. B) if the ideas to better target women come from guts feeling and sentences that start with "I think this is better!" instead of analytics data, you're going to make the wrong decision anyway, because the people in the IT department, regardless of gender, will have a different background and a skewed perception relative to the customers, so it won't really help.

      My significant other who works at Amazon (a woman software engineer, woo!) had that issue recently. The UX people design a mockup, based on statistics, history, what competitors do, what has been A/B tested, etc. During implementation on the engineering side, one of the PMs (a woman, working with said significant other) goes "No this sucks! Its not intuitive! In Excel things work like this! Lets change everything!", with no backing arguments beyond "she doesn't like it". Then when people explain all the process that lead to that UI, of course: "I'm a woman, i have a different perspective and you refuse to acknowledge it!!".

      Which was hilarious said she said that to another woman...

      • You don't need to be female to be an idiot in Product Management. I've worked with fools of both sexes in that particular arena. But you know what? They actually go out and talk to customers. They do (not as often nor as quickly as I'd like, but occasionally) get fired for their poor decisions. Besides, why do you think your engineering team has better insight than folks who actually talk to customers and do it well enough to get paid to do so? Especially when it comes from a UX department, whose artistic "

  • You mean (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Monday November 03, 2014 @10:15AM (#48300555)

    "The broad assumption is that a high percentage of their black and Latino employees work in their warehouses."

    You mean they discriminate against White and Asian warehouse employees?

    • "The broad assumption is that a high percentage of their black and Latino employees work in their warehouses."

      You mean they discriminate against White and Asian warehouse employees?

      I think it's obvious that most people would agree that working as a software delevoper is preferable to working in a warehouse.

      There's a strong argument that Amazon isn't the one to blame for it's poor diversity among the technical ranks. But I think it's far from ideal that high status jobs are overwhelmingly held by Whites and East Asians while Blacks and Hispanics struggle to get even low status work.

  • who cares what jesse jackass and his race baiting pimps think? Not me. Hell, they don't even care about diversity as long as they get their reparations.
  • Amazon demographic of African Americans: 15%
    USA 2010 census African Americans: 12.6%

    There we have it, proof of racism within Amazon. I eagerly await Jessie Jackson's protests of non-black victims.

  • ...your workforce is 100% human.

    Race is an illusion, an arbitrary social construct with no biological basis - using it as some sort of measure of proper employment ratios is just as useful as trying to get a proper mix of Firefly and Star Wars fans.

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