On Women’s Equality Day, Former Amazon Employee Asks Jeff Bezos to Treat Women and Parents Better

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Julia Cheiffetz, the executive editor of HarperCollins Publishers writes on Medium about the time she worked in Amazon’s book publishing division and took time off to have a baby and battle cancer:

After a five-month leave, I was nervous and excited to return to work, and I showed up that first day back with a big smile and a phone full of baby pictures to share. I figured I’d catch up with folks and get a high-level update on how the business was doing, since the strategy had evolved from the time I was hired. Here’s what happened instead: I was taken to lunch by a woman I barely knew. Over Cobb salad she calmly explained that all but one of my direct reports — the people I had hired — were now reporting to her. In the months that followed, I was placed on a dubious performance improvement plan, or PIP, a signal at Amazon that your employment is at risk. Not long after that I resigned.

Cheiffetz says that defenders of Amazon’s workplace culture have been predominantly men and points out that Michelle Wilson, the sole woman on Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s executive team, left on maternity leave and never came back. On Women’s Equality Day, Cheiffetz calls on Bezos to make Amazon a more hospitable place for women and parents.

Photo: Maria Elena

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