Amazon.com Inc. said it agreed to undergo an independent racial equity audit, joining companies including Citigroup Inc. and Tyson Foods Inc. in performing such reviews.
The audit — an analysis of companies to see whether their businesses cause and perpetuate discrimination — will be led by former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, a partner at law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, Amazon said in a proxy statement filed Thursday.
The review will measure any disparate racial impacts on Amazon’s U.S. hourly employees resulting from policies, programs and practices, the world’s largest online retailer said. The Seattle-based company said it will publish the audit’s results once completed.
New York State Common Retirement Fund filed a shareholder resolution with Amazon in 2021, asking for a racial audit. The request cited alleged discrimination of the company’s Black and Latinx workers, their low wages and exposure to dangerous working conditions, including Covid-19, as well as air pollution from distribution facilities located in minority neighborhoods.
While the proposal failed, it garnered 44.2% of votes, according to Bloomberg Intelligence, the highest of all racial-audit resolutions filed in last year’s shareholder meetings. The New York pension plan filed a similar proposal for Amazon’s May 25 annual meeting.
Amazon is advising shareholders to vote against the resolution because the company is now doing an audit. A company spokesman referred to the proxy statement filed last week.
Amazon joins other companies, including Citigroup, that have agreed to perform racial audits after initially pushing back against doing them. They had cited their efforts such as funding historically Black colleges and universities, running leadership programs for underrepresented minorities and channeling tens of millions of dollars to help close the racial wealth divide.
Apple Inc. shareholders backed a call last month for the tech giant to undergo a civil-rights audit — the first time such a resolution passed. Airbnb Inc. was the first company to do a racial audit back in 2016. Starbucks Corp. and Facebook Inc., now called Meta Platforms Inc., followed.
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