Julia Cheiffetz shares her story of how It’s really Not Working at Amazon.
Cheiffetz, a successful young book editor, was about to begin an MBA program at Columbia University when she was presented with an opportunity others told her would be crazy not to take.
This opportunity was with Amazon, the largest Internet retailer in America. Cheiffetz was drawn to the company’s innovative spirit, but as revealed in a recent New York Times peice, its work culture is anything but glamorous.
In 2013, while on maternity leave, Cheiffetz was diagnosed with cancer. A few weeks later, she received a form letter informing her that her insurance had been terminated. Many frantic phone calls and emails later, her employer blamed a glitch in the system- But Cheiffetz wondered how a company of its size and prestige could allow such a thing to happen. It was only when she returned to work that she began to see what was happening. As published on Medium, Cheiffetz writes:
“I was nervous and excited to return to work, and I showed up that first day back with a big smile and a phone full of baby pictures to share. I figured I’d catch up with folks and get a high-level update on how the business was doing, since the strategy had evolved from the time I was hired. Here’s what happened instead: I was taken to lunch by a woman I barely knew. Over Cobb salad she calmly explained that all but one of my direct reports — the people I had hired — were now reporting to her. In the months that followed, I was placed on a dubious performance improvement plan, or PIP, a signal at Amazon that your employment is at risk. Not long after that I resigned.”
While CEO Jeff Bezos has been desperately defending the claims reported in the New York Times, stories like these give a revealing and honest look at what goes on behind the scenes of Amazon. Having a baby and being diagnosed with cancer should only warrant more support from an employer- certainly not the polar opposite.