Amazon diversity struggles: 2 key Black executives leave as white workers still dominate top jobs

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Amazon, the nation's second-largest private employer, is losing two top Black executives in a serious blow to yearslong efforts to diversify its senior ranks.

Alicia Boler Davis, senior vice president of global customer fulfillment and the only Black executive in the company's senior leadership group, known as the "s-team," resigned to pursue other opportunities, Amazon said.

Dave Bozeman, vice president of Amazon Transportation Services, plans to take a new role elsewhere that will be announced shortly, the company said.

The departures underscore Amazon's struggles to make its leadership better reflect the consumers it serves two years after the murder of George Floyd sparked a movement for racial justice and pledges by corporate America to improve diversity. The senior leadership team in particular has been criticized for its lack of diversity.

Despite a concerted push to bring aboard more Black executives and executives from other underrepresented groups, the top jobs at Amazon still disproportionately go to people who are white and male, according to a U.S. TODAY analysis of the most recent federal workforce data.

At Amazon, white men were 23 times more likely than Black women and 14 times more likely than Black men to hold an job, the analysis showed.

Nearly 70% of all Amazon employees were people of color in 2021, a dramatic increase from 40% in 2014, U.S. TODAY found. But most of the gains have come at the lowest levels of the organization. Black and Hispanic employees hold a majority (56%) of blue-collar jobs even though those groups account for 28% of the nation's workforce.

"Though we've made in hiring Level 8 and Level 10 black leaders the last two years, it's not lost on any of us that we're losing two of our most senior black leaders," Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said in an internal memo.

Amazon remains committed to hiring and developing Black senior leaders, he wrote. "We have a lot of meaningful leadership roles at the company, and we're working hard to become as diverse and inclusive as we desire. We have a lot of work left to do."

The Amazon workforce data comes from federal filings known as EEO-1s, which break down the race and gender of a company's workforce by job categories.

When Amazon first publicly released its EEO-1 report in 2014, just one of its 110 executives was Black. In 2015 and 2016, it had none.

Amazon did not publicly share reports in 2017 and 2018.

In 2019, Amazon again began sharing the data publicly but reclassified a large number of managers as executives. At the time, 39 of the company's 2,013 executives identified as Black, most of them men.

As of 2021, 67% of the company's 3,075 executives were white and 74% were men.

Half were , a group that makes up only about a third of the U.S. workforce. White women, who comprise 30% of all U.S. workers, account for 18% of Amazon executives. Just 172 Amazon executives were Black, 66 (2.1%) of them Black women.

"Amazon is committed to building a diverse leadership team at all levels of the organization," the company said in a statement. "We've successfully hired a number of Black senior leaders in recent years and those efforts continue across the company."

(c)2022 U.S. Today
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