An Investor’s Open Letter to Amazon: Don’t Endanger Our Company by Sponsoring Hate


August 26, 2019

Mr. Jeff Bezos, CEO
Amazon.com, Inc.
410 Terry Ave. North
Seattle, WA 98109


Dear Jeff,

As an Amazon stakeholder and investor, I’d like to make an important request that has to do with Amazon’s Corporate Social Responsibility: specifically, that we don’t support any initiative that alienates patrons of a particular religion, especially when the initiative is clearly profit-motivated on the part of the antagonist.

Amazon building
Amazon’s building in Santa Clara, California (Photo by Ken Wolter/Shutterstock.com)

I am referring to Amazon’s support of, via advertisements, the A&E “Aftermath” show featuring Leah Remini, a professed former Scientologist. Although it’s yet undetermined if Remini’s affiliation with Scientology was a premeditated strategy, it is highly evident that personal financial gain was her ultimate goal. 

This was further evidenced by the fact that once a group of dedicated Scientologists began outing Remini as a fraud and a huckster—purveying anti-religious rhetoric to a hate-inflamed audience—Remini herself attempted to obfuscate critics by pretending her production was an equal-opportunity anti-religious hate show, by then attacking her next target, the Jehovah’s Witnesses. That pivot alone would signal those of even an average intelligence level that her show was solely created to attack and inflame for ratings and profits.

As a stakeholder, I’d like to know that Amazon’s Corporate Social Responsibility reaches far beyond just utilizing recycled cardboard for shipping containers.

Amazon, being one of the world’s preeminent companies, should never be engaged with such folly. As a stakeholder, I’d like to know that Amazon’s Corporate Social Responsibility reaches far beyond just utilizing recycled cardboard for shipping containers. It’s a matter of corporate governance and overall social conscientiousness to eliminate any affiliations that could come back upon the company and be used to vilify it. Not only would there be thousands of Scientologists and Jehovah’s Witness customers offended by the show and Amazon’s poor selection of advertising slots, but we must also consider the likelihood we are creating a hostile work environment for Amazon’s employees who are Scientologists and Jehovah’s Witnesses. It can’t be coincidence that five separate Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Halls were set ablaze once Remini announced that that religion was her next target.

There are tens of thousands of other shows on hundreds of stations with quality programming that would graciously accept Amazon’s ad money. Amazon shouldn’t just be a follower of the many other companies that have already cut ties with Remini’s hate-a-thon productions (such as Ikea, MasterCard, General Motors, Geico and Georgia-Pacific, to name a few), it should be the leader in taking action to thwart hate speech which incites harm against our most important stakeholders: our customers.

Amazon boxes
(Photo by Russ Vance/Shutterstock.com)

To remind you of the company’s own stated values:

“Customer Obsession: Leaders start with the customer and work backwards. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trustAlthough leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers.

This value doesn’t say “some” customers, or even most customers, with the exception of certain religions, races, etc. It just says “customers.” This means all—every customer of every faith. 

“Obsessing,” by definition, is “to be preoccupied with or constantly worrying about something.” Not taking note of these things from a corporate responsibility level—such as ensuring that the content of the environments in which the company advertises aligns with the company’s values—therefore shows a lack of the “obsession” that I believe you intended when this particular corporate value was authored.

After all, isn’t that at the heart of Amazon’s core values: make all your customers smile?  

With a corporate vision of being “Earth’s most customer-centric companyAmazon’s corporate social responsibility strategy must give the highest priority to customers as the most important stakeholder group. That being the case, doesn’t it make sense to eliminate support of any program that would alienate thousands of Amazon customers?

Amazon has made great strides on the social front with the Literary Partnership program, disaster relief donations, support of U.S. military abroad and their families…. These are all great examples of Corporate Social Responsibility. And, of course, there’s our wonderful initiative supporting nonprofit organizations dedicated to creating a better world: Amazon Smile. When I think of that, it makes me smile…

And after all, isn’t that at the heart of Amazon’s core values: make all your customers smile?

Remini’s show doesn’t do that. It wipes away those beautiful smiles.

It harms and kills.

Thank you.


Sincerely,
Stuart Rosenbaum

Author

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