Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ 2020 letter to shareholders details the company’s plans to combat the coronavirus
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos just published his annual letter to shareholders, and the efforts his company is taking to address the COVID-19 crisis were front and center.
He outlined the company’s plans to build a lab to test employees and the social
distancing measures its implemented in its facilities among other initiatives.
Other than the coronavirus pandemic, Bezos also discussed the retail giant’s efforts
to combat climate change and its impact on job creation.
In his annual letter to shareholders, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos detailed the many efforts Amazon is taking to address the coronavirus pandemic, from hiring more than 100,000 additional workers to meet demand to building its own lab to test employees for COVID-19.
“One thing we’ve learned from the COVID-19 crisis is how important Amazon has become to our customers,” Bezos wrote in the letter, which was published on Thursday. “We want you to know that we take this responsibility seriously, and we’re proud of the work our teams are doing to help customers through this difficult time.”
Bezos outlined several ways in which the company is attempting to help customers while keeping employees safe, including introducing social distancing measures in its warehouses, setting aside the first hour of shopping at Whole Foods just for seniors, and increasing the minimum wage by $2 per hour through the end of April.
The letter comes as Amazon has also been caught up in controversy over its treatment of warehouse workers in recent weeks. The company recently fired a warehouse worker in Staten Island that helped organize a protest, prompting five Democratic senators to send a letter to Bezos pressing for answers. Some warehouse workers have also said they’ve struggled to utilize Amazon’s expanded sick leave policy, according to Business Insider’s Isobel Asher Hamilton.
An Amazon warehouse employee in Southern California recently died from the coronavirus disease, Business Insider’s Eugene Kim reported, adding to concerns of the safety of Amazon’s facilities.
While Amazon’s COVID-19 relief efforts were the main highlight in Bezos’ 2020 letter to shareholders, he also discussed other initiatives, like the retail giant’s efforts to combat climate change and create jobs in the United States.
“For now, my own time and thinking continues to be focused on COVID-19 and how Amazon can help while we’re in the middle of it,” Bezos wrote at the end of the letter.
Read the partial letter below.
To our shareowners:
One thing we’ve learned from the COVID-19 crisis is how important Amazon has become to our customers. We want you to know we take this responsibility seriously, and we’re proud of the work our teams are doing to help customers through this difficult time.
Amazonians are working around the clock to get necessary supplies delivered directly to the doorsteps of people who need them. The demand we are seeing for essential products has been and remains high. This spike occurred with little warning, creating major challenges for our suppliers and delivery network. We quickly prioritized the stocking and delivery of essential household staples, medical supplies, and other critical products.
Our Whole Foods Market stores have remained open, providing fresh food and other vital goods for customers. We are taking steps to help those most vulnerable to the virus, setting aside the first hour of shopping at Whole Foods each day for seniors. We have temporarily closed Amazon Books, Amazon 4-star, and Amazon Pop Up stores because they don’t sell essential products, and we offered associates from those closed stores the opportunity to continue working in other parts of Amazon.
Crucially, while providing these essential services, we are focused on the safety of our employees and contractors around the world-we are deeply grateful for their heroic work and are committed to their health and well-being. Consulting closely with medical experts and health authorities, we’ve made over 150 significant process changes in our operations network and Whole Foods Market stores to help teams stay healthy, and we conduct daily audits of the measures we’ve put into place. We’ve distributed face masks and implemented temperature checks at sites around the world to help protect employees and support staff.
We’ve also introduced extensive social distancing measures to help protect our associates. We have eliminated stand-up meetings during shifts, moved information sharing to bulletin boards, staggered break times, and spread out chairs in breakrooms.
A next step in protecting our employees might be regular testing of all Amazonians, including those showing no symptoms. We’ve begun the work of building incremental testing capacity. A team of Amazonians-from research scientists and program managers to procurement specialists and software engineers-moved from their normal day jobs onto a dedicated team to work on this initiative.
While we explore longer-term solutions, we are also committed to helping support employees now. We increased our minimum wage through the end of April by $2 per hour in the U.S., $2 per hour in Canada, £2 per hour in the UK, and €2 per hour in many European countries. And we are paying associates double our regular rate for any overtime worked-a minimum of $34 an hour-an increase from time and a half. These wage increases will cost more than $500 million, just through the end of April, and likely more than that over time. While we recognize this is expensive, we believe it’s the right thing to do under the circumstances. We also established the Amazon Relief Fund-with an initial $25 million in funding-to support our independent delivery service partners and their drivers, Amazon Flex participants, and temporary employees under financial distress.
In March, we opened 100,000 new positions across our fulfillment and delivery network. Earlier this week, after successfully filling those roles, we announced we were creating another 75,000 jobs to respond to customer demand.
Amazon Web Services is also playing an important role in this crisis. The ability for organizations to access scalable, dependable, and highly secure computing power- whether for vital healthcare work, to help students continue learning, or to keep unprecedented numbers of employees online and productive from home-is critical in this situation. Academic institutions around the world are transitioning from in-person to virtual classrooms and are running on AWS to help ensure continuity of learning. And governments are leveraging AWS as a secure platform to build out new capabilities in their efforts to end this pandemic.
We are collaborating with the World Health Organization, supplying advanced cloud technologies and technical expertise to track the virus, understand the outbreak, and better contain its spread.
Although these are incredibly difficult times, they are an important reminder that what we do as a company can make a big difference in people’s lives. Customers count on us to be there, and we are fortunate to be able to help. With our scale and ability to innovate quickly, Amazon can make a positive impact and be an organizing force for progress.
Last year, we co-founded The Climate Pledge with Christiana Figueres, the UN’s former climate change chief and founder of Global Optimism, and became the first signatory to the pledge. The pledge commits Amazon to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement 10 years early-and be net zero carbon by 2040.
We plan to meet the pledge, in part, by purchasing 100,000 electric delivery vans from Rivian-a Michiganbased producer of electric vehicles. Amazon aims to have 10,000 of
Rivian’s new electric vans on the road as early as 2022, and all 100,000 vehicles on the road by 2030. That’s good for the environment, but the promise is even greater.
We’ve also committed to reaching 80% renewable energy by 2024 and 100% renewable energy by 2030. (The team is actually pushing to get to 100% by 2025 and has a challenging but credible plan to pull that off.)
We’ve made tremendous progress cutting packaging waste. More than a decade ago, we created the FrustrationFree Packaging program to encourage manufacturers to package their products in easy-to-open, 100% recyclable packaging that is ready to ship to customers without the need for an additional shipping box. Since 2008, this program has saved more than 810,000 tons of packaging material and eliminated the use of 1.4 billion shipping boxes.
We are making these significant investments to drive our carbon footprint to zero despite the fact that shopping online is already inherently more carbon efficient than going to the store.
Leveraging scale for good
Over the last decade, no company has created more jobs than Amazon. Amazon directly employs 840,000 workers worldwide, including over 590,000 in the U.S., 115,000 in Europe, and 95,000 in Asia. In total, Amazon directly and indirectly supports 2 million jobs in the U.S., including 680,000-plus jobs created by Amazon’s investments in areas like construction, logistics, and professional services, plus another 830,000 jobs created by small and medium-sized businesses selling on Amazon. Globally, we support nearly 4 million jobs. We are especially proud of the fact that many of these are entry- level jobs that give people their first opportunity to participate in the workforce.
And Amazon’s jobs come with an industry-leading $15 minimum wage and comprehensive benefits. More than 40 million Americans-many making the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour-earn less than the lowest-paid Amazon associate. When we raised our starting minimum wage to $15 an hour in 2018, it had an immediate and meaningful impact on the hundreds of thousands of people working in our fulfillment centers. We want other big employers to join us by raising their own minimum pay rates, and we continue to lobby for a $15 federal minimum wage.
We want to improve workers’ lives beyond pay. Amazon provides every full-time employee with health insurance, a 401(k) plan, 20 weeks paid maternity leave, and other benefits. These are the same benefits that Amazon’s most senior executives receive. And with our rapidly changing economy, we see more clearly than ever the need for workers to evolve their skills continually to keep up with technology. That’s why we’re spending $700 million to provide more than 100,000 Amazonians access to training programs, at their places of work, in high-demand fields such as healthcare, cloud computing, and machine learning. Since 2012, we have offered Career Choice, a pre-paid tuition program for fulfillment center associates looking to move into high- demand occupations.
To ensure that future generations have the skills they need to thrive in a technology- driven economy, we started a program last year called Amazon Future Engineer, which is designed to educate and train low-income and disadvantaged young people to pursue careers in computer science. We have an ambitious goal: to help hundreds of thousands of students each year learn computer science and coding.
Using relevant examples from the article above, discuss some of the contingency factors that need to be considered by managers in developing plans. ( 350 words )
Answer : Some of the contingency factors that need to be considered by managers in developing plans are:-
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