Amazon's sustainability efforts may be enigmatic to those who look for transparency in CSR reports, but they've made great strides in areas such as packaging and energy. Now, diversity has made its way up the priority list to the board level, with Amazon committing to filling more board positions with women and minorities in the coming years.
Amazon's current 10 member board is all white with three women. In a global environment where companies are increasingly scrutinized for their attention to diversity in leadership, Amazon's proactive stance is a welcome step. It's even more noteworthy in the tech sector which remains stubbornly dominated by white men.
The new policy, filed with the SEC, requires the board's nominating committee to include "a slate of diverse candidates, including women and minorities" for any position that opens. The policy is reminiscent of the National Football League's "Rooney Rule" which requires minority consideration in filling all top coaching positions.
Amazon's decision didn't come out of nowhere, however. Activist shareholders led by CtW Investment Group introduced a resolution recommending the new rule one week ago. Amazon originally spoke out against the resolution but employee pressure as well as a letter writing campaign by The Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Hispanic Caucus ultimately convinced the company to change their tune and adopt the new policy.
Why was Amazon opposed to the change in the first place? We may never know, but we've written about why paying attention to diversity makes business sense more times that we can shake a stick at (see here, and here for starters). Simply put, different kinds of people with different backgrounds bring new ideas to the table that would be less likely to emerge in a monoculture. That's always good in the long run.
It will still take time for Amazon's new policy to bear fruit but we can say with a high degree of confidence they're moving in the right direction.
Nick Aster is the founder of TriplePundit.
TriplePundit.com has grown to become one of the web's leading sources of news and ideas on how business can be used to make the world a better place. It was acquired in 2017 by 3BLMedia, the leading news distribution and content marketing company focused on niche topics including sustainability, health, energy, education, philanthropy, community and other social and environmental topics.
Prior to TriplePundit Nick worked for Mother Jones magazine, successfully re-launching the magazine's online presence. He worked for TreeHugger.com, managing the technical side of the publication for 3 years and has also been an active consultant for individuals and companies entering the world of micro-publishing. He also worked for Gawker Media and Moreover Technologies in the early days of blogging.
Nick holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and graduated with a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.