During July and August, workers at Amazon’s Seattle headquarters defaced 10 employee-designed posters promoting LGBT workplace diversity. The company replaced the Amazon Pride posters and sent out a reminder that “Posters are company property.”
The vandalism and the company’s dispassionate response left some LGBT Amazon employees feeling unwelcome and unsupported. Though Amazon initially defended its response, Amazon’s Senior Vice President of Human Resources Beth Galetti recently issued an e-mail to Seattle employees reiterating the company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion and specifically calling the defacing of posters a form of discrimination.
The Amazon Pride posters were originally placed in the elevators of the company’s headquarters. On one poster, someone crossed out the T in LGBT. On another someone simply wrote “Why?”
After replacing the posters, the company sent out a message stating, “Posters are company property. Defacing posters is a violation of Amazon’s policy.”
CNBC says the company received 100 e-mails criticizing the company’s response, with at least one stating the incident made them question whether to stay with the company.
One employee e-mail read, “The proper response to widespread Pride poster defacement is not only a policy that prohibits defacement, but also a massive and overwhelming show of support for Pride in many forms.”
The company initially responded to reports of these disgruntled employee e-mails by stating that no further incidents of vandalism had occurred since the posters’ replacement.
In Galleti’s e-mail, issued yesterday to Seattle employees, she stated, “When individuals discriminate against others — be it by making a ‘joke,’ a passive comment or by defacing a poster — not only is it against our policies, it is wrong. All employees should be able to bring their authentic selves to work every day to serve our customers — no matter our gender (cis or trans), race, ethnicity, education, age, disability status or cultural background — and be supported by their fellow Amazonians.”
The e-mail also asked anyone witnessing such discriminatory behavior to immediately address its inappropriateness and report it to human resources.
Amazon has a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign‘s 2018 Corporate Equality Index, a measure of businesses’ pro-LGBTQ policies. Last year HRC also gave Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos its National Equality Award, praising his business policies and support of marriage equality.