All Work, No Life at Amazon

photo credit: Ruth Fremson/The New York Times


It’s not working at Amazon, where employees are reportedly encouraged to place work above children, partners, dying family members, miscarried babies, and their own health.

In her New York Times piece, “Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace,” Jodi Kantor explores the ways in which there’s a serious work/life imbalance at the company. The culture is particularly brutal for mothers, Kantor reports:

“Michelle Williamson, a 41-year-old parent of three who helped build Amazon’s restaurant supply business, said her boss, Shahrul Ladue, had told her that raising children would most likely prevent her from success at a higher level because of the long hours required.”

“Another employee who miscarried twins left for a business trip the day after she had surgery. ‘I’m sorry, the work is still going to need to get done,’ she said her boss told her. ‘From where you are in life, trying to start a family, I don’t know if this is the right place for you.'”

Based on the embarrassed response, it seems Amazon may have some thinking to do about how to define it’s workplace culture.

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