Amazon has commissioned a 'racial equity audit' to study potential discrimination impacts on its 1 million hourly workers after shareholder pressure

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Amazon has commissioned a 'racial equity audit' to study potential discrimination impacts on its 1 million hourly workers after shareholder pressure
An Amazon worker fills an order in the Amazon fulfillment center in DuPont, Washington.Stephen Brashear/Getty Images
  • Amazon is to evaluate whether and how its policies have "disparate racial impacts" on its workers.
  • It has commissioned a racial equity audit to be led by former US Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
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Amazon has commissioned an independent "racial equity audit" that will analyze whether the way it conducts its business fuels racism and discrimination for its 1 million hourly workers.

Loretta Lynch, former US Attorney General and now a partner at law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, will lead the audit, Amazon said. The firm, which is the second-largest employer in the US, said it will release the findings publicly, but did not give a timeline.

"The focus of the audit will be to evaluate any disparate racial impacts on our nearly one million U.S. hourly employees resulting from our policies, programs, and practices," Amazon said in a proxy statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission last Thursday.

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The move comes after sustained shareholder pressure on Amazon to look into how its business practices could result in racial inequity.

In 2021, the company faced several lawsuits that accuse Amazon managers and HR employees of racial, ethnic, and gender discrimination, Insider previously reported.

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The New York State Common Retirement Fund and its comptroller Thomas DiNapoli filed a proposal at last year's annual shareholders' meeting asking Amazon to review what steps it's taking to address these issues. "We will continue to press Amazon to take an independent look at how it is addressing racial justice and equity, just as other major corporations have done," DiNapoli said at the time.

That resolution ultimately failed but, according to Bloomberg analysis, it garnered 44% shareholder support.

One year on, the pension fund and DiNapoli are filing a similar motion. DiNapoli said that while Amazon has taken some actions to address racial prejudice and discrimination, it still faces significant controversies that "raise questions related to the company's overall strategy and the company's alignment with its public statements."

In its SEC filing last week, Amazon said it has been transparent about what it's doing to improve workplace safety and tackle concerns about diversity among its workforce.

Citing its upcoming racial equity audit, Amazon recommended that shareholders vote against DiNapoli's motion.

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DiNapoli said he remained "concerned that the company has provided few details and has made no assurances that the audit will be independent," according to Bloomberg.

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