Jeff Bezos: We never said Amazon has the right work culture

Amazon CEO defends working life at tech giant after NYT exposé

Jeff Bezos sitting in a chair

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has belatedly defended his company's work culture after a New York Times expos last year claimed employees cried at their desks.

In an update to investors on the tech giant's future direction, Bezos indirectly addressed the NYT's article, written eight months ago, without directly referring to it.

"We never claim that our approach is the right one just that it's ours and over the last two decades, we've collected a large group of like-minded people," he wrote. "Folks who find our approach energising and meaningful."

The NYT story, which the publication claimed was the result of interviews with hundreds of former and current Amazon employees, accused Amazon managers of ignoring employees' health issues and highlighted cases of staff crying at their desks.

Bezos wrote to workers a couple of days after the article to say it "doesn't describe the Amazon I know", but his letter to investors includes a more complete defense of Amazon's work culture.

The CEO's full discussion about working life at his company reads as follows: "A word about corporate cultures: for better or for worse, they are enduring, stable, hard to change. They can be a source of advantage or disadvantage. You can write down your corporate culture, but when you do so, you're discovering it, uncovering it not creating it.

"It is created slowly over time by the people and by events by the stories of past success and failure that become a deep part of the company lore. If it's a distinctive culture, it will fit certain people like a custom-made glove. The reason cultures are so stable in time is because people self-select. 

"Someone energised by competitive zeal may select and be happy in one culture, while someone who loves to pioneer and invent may choose another. The world, thankfully, is full of many high-performing, highly distinctive corporate cultures. We never claim that our approach is the right one just that it's ours and over the last two decades, we've collected a large group of like-minded people. Folks who find our approach energizing and meaningful."

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