Amazon is hiring a law firm to review how the company’s policies affect racial equity in its hourly workforce, the company said in a statement to shareholders Thursday. The audit will be led by former US Attorney General Loretta Lynch and will become public once it’s completed.
“The focus of the audit will be to evaluate any disparate racial impacts on our nearly one million US hourly employees resulting from our policies, programs, and practices,” the company said in its statement.
The announcement comes in advance of Amazon’s annual shareholder meeting on May 25, when votes will be held on multiple proposals to review the company’s practices. The proposals include a call for a racial equity audit, which Amazon advises against because it has already taken steps to undergo one. The proposed audit would be broader than the one Amazon is arranging, covering salaried staff in addition to the company’s hourly workforce.
Amazon has been the target offiled by current and former employees from both the corporate and hourly levels. Charlotte Newman, a corporate worker who has , criticized the company’s audit plan in a Monday tweet that noted the review will ignore employees like her. “That’s a major carvingout,” she said.
Amazon said the audit will cover the largest portion of its workforce. It won’t include hourly workers at Whole Foods Market or PillPack.
Another shareholder proposal up for a vote at the May meeting calls for a review of whether Amazon’s health and safety policies disproportionately cause injuries in women and people of color. Still another proposal calls for changes to how Amazon reports the median pay of women and people of color. Amazon advised shareholders to vote against these proposals.