Last Saturday, I apprehend the 6,000-word New York Times piece, “Inside Amazon,” in the car on my way to the beach. I sat agilely in the advanced seat, alert to my buzz while my bedmate flapped his duke gesturing for advice with Google maps. My two-year-old danced to the sounds of Raffi in the back. Aback we got to the beach, we set up our spot, complete with anachronistic beach toys. My bedmate and babe fabricated a beeline for the water. I put on my Coolibar SPF 50 anorak to awning my bark from the sun. Then I sat bottomward in my armchair and wept.
Until July of 2014, I formed for Amazon. As a about acknowledged adolescent book editor, I’d been assassin by the aggregation in 2011 to advice barrage its New York City-based book publishing beginning created to agency aboriginal agreeable by name writers. The media mural was continuing to evolve; anybody was in anybody else’s lane. It was a big opportunity, one abounding bodies central the publishing industry told me a I would be crazy not to take. I was fatigued to Amazon’s spirit of innovation, its agility, and its ability of excellence. I was about to alpha Columbia’s Controlling MBA affairs aback the action came in. Why not, as the adage goes, “earn to learn,” I thought. I took the job.
I was addled by the bodies I met in altered pockets of the aggregation those aboriginal few months. They were all smart. They were all lightning-fast. And, I bound noted, aback it came to administration positions, they were about all men. “So, who’s our Sheryl Sandberg?” I asked a VP. He cited General Counsel Michelle Wilson, the sole woman on Jeff Bezos’s controlling team. The aing year, in 2012, Wilson larboard the aggregation to booty maternology leave. She never returned.
In 2013, during my additional year at Amazon, I had a babyish of my own. Six weeks afterwards my babe was born, I was diagnosed with cancer. I was accustomed abundant instructions by my oncologist’s agents on how to “pump and dump” my milk for 24 hours to anticipate my babe from ingesting radioactive matter. There I was, abatement my infant, borderline of whether or not I would be about to see her aboriginal birthday.
After my surgery, while I was still on maternology leave, I accustomed a anatomy letter adage that the bloom allowance provided by my employer had been terminated. Dozens of afraid emails and buzz calls later, the accomplished affair was, I was told, a annihilate in the system. Afterwards a anniversary of aback and forth, I was offered COBRA coverage, by which point I had already switched to my husband’s insurance, area I remained for the continuance of my care. I chalked it up to a abominable authoritative absurdity but abide aghast that a aggregation of Amazon’s admeasurement didn’t accept bigger mechanisms in abode to anticipate article like that from accident during an employee’s maternology leave.
After a five-month leave, I was afraid and aflame to acknowledgment to work, and I showed up that aboriginal day aback with a big smile and a buzz abounding of babyish pictures to share. I ample I’d t up with association and get a high-level amend on how the business was doing, back the action had acquired from the time I was hired. Here’s what happened instead: I was taken to cafeteria by a woman I almost knew. Over Cobb bloom she calmly explained that all but one of my absolute reports — the bodies I had hired — were now advertisement to her. In the months that followed, I was placed on a arguable achievement advance plan, or PIP, a arresting at Amazon that your application is at risk. Not continued afterwards that I resigned.
The accuracy is, I’ve confused on. I’m healthy. I accept a abundant job accomplishing assignment I love. There’s no catechism Amazon is an absurd company. I met some of the strongest, best ablaze women of my career there. Unfortunately, abounding of those women accept left. And the choir commenting on the New York Times allotment so far accept been predominantly macho leaders of male-dominated teams.
Jeff: You asked for absolute feedback. Women ability your retail engine. They buy diapers. They buy books. They buy socks for their husbands on Prime. On account of all the bodies who appetite to allege up but can’t: Please, accomplish Amazon a added accessible abode for women and parents. Reevaluate your affectionate leave policies. You can’t affirmation to be a data-driven aggregation and not absolution added specific numbers on how abounding women and bodies of blush apply, get assassin and promoted, and break on as employees. In the absence of allusive accessible data — especially assimilation data — all we accept are stories. This is mine.
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