The civil-rights leader will address the online retail giant’s annual meeting Wednesday, pushing the company to improve its hiring of women and minorities.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson will press his case for workplace diversity in technology, addressing Amazon.com’s annual shareholder meeting Wednesday morning.
“I’m going to make an appeal at the shareholders meeting,” Jackson said in an interview with The Seattle Times Tuesday afternoon.
Jackson has traveled to tech-company shareholder meetings for the past several months, highlighting the dearth of minority employees at the companies and calling for strategies, such as expanding tech education in minority communities, in order to be more inclusive.
In December, Jackson spoke at Microsoft’s shareholder meeting, calling on the software giant to disclose more diversity data and improve minority hiring.
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Amazon acknowledged that it would give Jackson a forum at the meeting, letting him ask the first question when the meeting moves to the shareholder question-and-answer portion.
“We look forward to welcoming the Rev. Jackson at our annual meeting and we agree that these are important issues,” Amazon spokesman Ty Rogers said.
He’s claimed some success with his campaign. Microsoft, for example, included four minority-owned banks in its largest-ever bond sale in February. Apple used African American- and Latino-owned financial-services firms in its $6.5 billion debt offering in February as well.
Jackson has also called out tech companies for the lack of transparency regarding women and minority hiring, saying last fall that Amazon’s workforce, among others, does not “look like America.” He repeated those concerns Tuesday, and said he hopes to meet with Amazon leadership, including Chief Executive Jeff Bezos, and push Amazon to set targets and timetables for diversity improvement.
“They must have a will to be better,” Jackson said.
Amazon came under Jackson’s fire in November, when it released workplace-diversity data that showed 37 percent of the company’s global workforce is female and its U.S. staff is 40 percent nonwhite.
That data counted the tens of thousands of employees who work at the company’s warehouses, where wages are lower than at headquarters and diversity is likely greater.
Last week, Jackson spoke at Google’s shareholder meeting. According to a USA Today report, he said, “Diversity and inclusion is a complex problem. If we put our collective minds to it, we can solve it, too,”