Just how big is Amazon’s ethics challenge?
Axios Harris’ 2019 poll of the 100 Most Visible Companies shows that just 41 percent of U.S. respondents agree Amazon.com shares their values, 39 percent feel Amazon rewards its employees fairly and only 19 percent feel the corporation speaks out on social issues important to them.
Amazon dropped out of the top 10 rankings for Ethics and Culture in the study “amid a year of tabloid attacks on its CEO, backlash from Whole Foods employees and rising reports of fake products being sold online.” Fallout from the last-minute cancellation of its New York City headquarters was also cited.
The overall study found Amazon dropped from the top spot in Corporate Reputation rankings — albeit only to number two, behind Wegman’s. Amazon still ranked as the leading company in trajectory, growth and vision.
In the past, backlashes against Amazon usually stemmed from the e-commerce giant’s avoidance of collecting sales tax and the related disadvantage to brick and mortar store operators. Amazon now collects and pays taxes in all states that require them.
Beyond labor, counterfeiting and headquarters issues, controversies in recent years have included privacy concerns over its Echo devices, Ring doorbells and facial-recognition technologies; its alleged discriminatory cashless stores; and accusations of monopolistic behavior from Democratic presidential candidates.
In a recent Wall Street Journal article, “Amazon’s Size Is Becoming a Problem — for Amazon,” Christopher Mims, technology columnist, argues that the company’s sheer size, which includes not only dominating online selling, but cloud computing and logistics as well as its extensive access to consumer data, will continue to draw the scrutiny of regulators.
“When Amazon not only provides your on-demand videos, toiletries and home furnishings but also the cloud service your doctor uses to analyze your medical records, you might think twice about buying that pint of gelato at Whole Foods,” wrote Mr. Mims.
Axios said its study “reveals Americans are torn between the ethical side-effects and the elevated Prime lifestyle they’ve grown accustomed to from Amazon’s innovation. People are often noted in research for saying one thing and doing another. And here, Amazon’s growth shows no signs of abating. But how long will Americans look away?”
- Announcing The Axios Harris Poll 100: Ranking the Reputations of the 100 Most Visible Companies In America – The Harris Poll
- Consumers Love Amazon, But May Be Questioning Its Ethics – MarketingCharts
- Amazon’s Size Is Becoming a Problem — for Amazon – The Wall Street Journal
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Which, if any, of the ethical questions surrounding Amazon will become an impediment to growth over the next five years? Does the company need to take any major actions to change its practices?