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Disclosure: I work at Amazon, for AWS, as a VP / Distinguished Engineer.

Even though you work at AWS, there are ways to get familiar with how fulfillment centers work, and what the working conditions are like by doing the various jobs in a two day on-site program called C2FC. It's been nearly 9 years since I last did this, and I find myself wanting to do it again. It used to be compulsory training for all L7+ employees at the company, but this has been relaxed as we have grown larger, so some people aren't aware that the program exists. I believe that it is open to all full time employees, though they are currently not holding sessions (as you can imagine COVID-19 makes this impractical).

Getting connected with the right owners can sometimes be a challenge at a place like Amazon. As you're in an engineering role, the Principal Engineering Community is a resource can connect you to other engineers inside the company that are working, hands on, on challenging problems that include how we build safe working environments for FC associates. The SDEs in the operations organization are customer obsessed, and those customers include FC associates who use the tools and technology to perform their daily work. You can consider transferring to work directly on technology that FC associates use, and directly with the associates who use them as your customer.

Raising concerns internally to the right owner, in good faith, has always been welcome in my experience at Amazon. If you aren't directly in an organization that is working on solutions, progress might not be visible to you. There are challenges where we all are not satisfied with the speed in which we are able to address them. But that does not mean that there aren't coworkers working earnestly in doing so.

If you would like to reach directly out to me, you can via email or Chime. My login is "msw". I try to keep an open door policy, as much as my schedule allows, and practice discretion in how I try to address concerns. However, I cannot promise to keep every conversation strictly confidential, as I am obligated to report probable violations of the Amazon Code of Conduct and Ethics [1] in my position (including any discrimination, harassment, or retaliation of any reports of misconduct or concerns that are made in good faith by an employee).

[1] https://ir.aboutamazon.com/corporate-governance/documents-an...




> However, I cannot promise to keep every conversation strictly confidential, as I am obligated to report probable violations of the Amazon Code of Conduct and Ethics [1] in my position (including any discrimination, harassment, or retaliation of any reports of misconduct or concerns that are made in good faith by an employee).

narc spotted


I think you have it backwards.

[edit] For clarity: I generally understand employee rights and protections, at least where I live, and I consider it part of my responsibility to communicate about them in concrete, factual ways, and to try to ensure that they are upheld.


> It's been nearly 9 years since I last did this [...]. It used to be compulsory training for all L7+

At least you are being honest you know nothing to the issue, as most engineers at Amazon.

> engineers inside the company that are working, hands on, on challenging problems that include how we build safe working environments for FC associates.

Have you thought FC associates may have an opinion on how their problems are to be solved?

> FC associates who use the tools and technology to perform their daily work

This is not a technological problem: this is addressing fears people have for their health (no matter what you think about those fears), with concrete and simple actions that are mostly common sense (social distancing everywhere in the premises and protective gear). This failed PR speech clearly shows how far you and Amazon are to understand the issue.


> At least you are being honest you know nothing to the issue, as most engineers at Amazon.

It is, indeed, a common fallacy that technologists think that everything can be solved with a technical solution. The challenges here are much more systemic. From my privileged position I cannot truly understand all of the challenges faced by people who work warehouse jobs. Just doing their job for a few days in an education program is not a true simulation of their existence. You have to listen, and be emphatic, and try your best to help. And recognize when you're not going to engineer a solution to all of the problems of the world. For me, personally, it weighs on me.


Maybe I was more aggressive than I intended. I too, would want to do more on a number of issues.


Way back in 2015 there was an article in the New York Times [1][2] that included a quote from a former long time employee, "Amazon is where overachievers go to feel bad about themselves." While I personally didn't see many of the things covered in that piece, this part of the article resonated with me.

We do bold things, tackle really hard challenges, and also have intrinsic aspects of the business that involve managing risk of human life. As engineers I think we have a professional responsibility to be robust in how we solve problems, and also how we build safe systems. It is a huge responsibility, and one that I, and the people around me, take EXTREMELY seriously. From an outcomes perspective, is is healthy to never be satisfied with how well we are doing (and we, generally, aren't). From a mental health perspective, we also have a responsibility to be mindful of those impacts for those who build the systems, and those who run these businesses.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/16/technology/inside-amazon-... [2] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10065243




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