Corporate management of Employee Activism requires strong communication mechanisms

I have intended to write about Amazon’s recent pledge on climate change and its connectivity with the previous demands by some of its employees, who had planned – and actually held – a walkout. Initially, my thought was that this was a good example of how employee activism is driving corporate change. However, I held off on it to reflect on some elements of this employee activism that were unclear to me:

1) When publicly announcing its climate change pledge, Amazon did not directly refer or give credit to the protesting employees. Amazon may have lost a good opportunity to give credit to the protestors in inspiring or molding the pledge, especially when it is difficult to deny the connectivity between its announcement and the Amazon walkout.

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2) It appears that Amazon did not share or communicate the climate change pledge first with the employees or at least the protesting employees. This could have shown Amazon’s interest in listening and considering their claims, reinforcing employees engagement and sense of belonging.

3) Notwithstanding the merits of the climate change pledge and that it represents a relevant step in the right direction, Amazon’s protesting employees publicly expressed their nonconformance with its reach because they believe it leaves some important demands unfulfilled. In my humbled opinion, this reaction could have been avoided if Amazon had discussed the climate change pledge with its employees before releasing it.

In sum, I am delighted to see this new movement of empowered employees demanding their employers to stand up on social matters that they consider important. The need from employers’ to react in some fashion is clear but how to do it is not so evident yet. My two cents: open communication lines and honest discussions between the employees and the company are more important than ever…

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