New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced that the New York State Common Retirement Fund (the Fund) has filed a shareholder proposal at Amazon.com, Inc. asking for an independent audit to assess the company’s policies and practices on civil rights, equity, diversity and inclusion, and how they affect the company’s business.
“Amazon says it stands alongside those fighting systemic racism, yet we continue to see reports of workers facing racial discrimination, accusations of discriminatory wages, and the sale of products that promote hatred,” DiNapoli said. “Corporate America can only benefit by joining the ongoing national reckoning over racial injustice and confronting institutionalized inequality, just as it would seek to root out any other systemic problem and mitigate risks for long-term investors. Amazon needs an unbiased look at how it’s addressing racial justice and equity, just as other major corporations have.”
A growing national movement, galvanized by the murder of George Floyd and other incidents of racial injustice, led Amazon to tweet, in May 2020, a declaration of its “solidarity with the Black community—our employees, customers, and partners—in the fight against systemic racism and injustice.” However, it has been alleged that Amazon:
- Paid low wages to its disproportionately Black and Latino warehouse employees, who have contended with dangerous working conditions, including exposure to COVID-19.
- Discriminated against a former employee for racial discrimination who led a walkout over concerns about workplace safety and was described by Amazon’s General Counsel as “not smart or articulate.”
- Through its Whole Foods’ division, discriminated against employees for wearing Black Lives Matter masks on the job.
- Inconsistently enforced its policy banning the sale of products that promote hatred.
- Used AWS facial surveillance technology disproportionately against people of color, immigrants and civil society groups.
DiNapoli’s shareholder proposal asks that the audit be conducted by an independent third party with input from civil rights organizations, employees, communities in which Amazon operates and other stakeholders. It also requests that a report on the audit be made public on Amazon’s website.
About the New York State Common Retirement Fund
The New York State Common Retirement Fund is the third largest public pension fund in the United States. The Fund holds and invests the assets of the New York State and Local Retirement System on behalf of more than one million state and local government employees and retirees and their beneficiaries. The Fund has consistently been ranked as one of the best managed and best funded plans in the nation. The Fund's fiscal year ends March 31.
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