Amazon’s fulfillment centers are notoriously demanding of their workers, but corporate jobs with the e-commerce behemoth are no picnic either. There’s a demanding, inflexible company culture that is particularly hard on parents, but a group of Amazon employees who are also mothers is trying to change that.
The Momazonians, as the more than 1,800 women call themselves, are scheduled to meet with senior managers in the coming weeks to advocate for backup daycare, a benefit common at other successful tech companies.
Backup daycare is childcare offered on short notice during unexpected situations like a flu outbreak at school or a babysitter canceling at the last minute. It would allow moms to miss less work (and attract less negative attention) in the event their normal childcare plans fell through.
A Bloomberg story highlights some troubling anecdotes. There’s the former Amazon employee who arrived at work at 7 a.m. and stayed until 7 p.m. every day to avoid the “bad optics” of leaving before her colleagues. HR advised her to find another job “if the culture wasn’t a good fit.”
Another Amazon employee had the ability, rare in the company, to work from home. On snow days, her house became a de facto daycare center where other Amazon moms dropped off their kids on the way to work.
More than one woman described not mentioning her family to co-workers and not displaying family photos at work for fear of being labeled a “distracted mom” who couldn’t handle important projects. Women also often became sidelined when they came back from maternity leave, no longer seen as focused or capable like they were before having a kid, a former employee told Business Insider.
While the company does offer some parent-friendly benefits, the Momazonians see childcare as a crucial missing link that could help working mothers advance their careers and gain compensation in line with male colleagues.
But even if they gain backup daycare, it seems likely that cultural problems at Amazon will continue. Jeff Bezos is notoriously frugal and has a history of expanding benefits only when convinced that it would be good for the bottom line. Of the seven company officers, only one is a woman, and there’s a persistent equivocation of “butts in seats” with a properly functioning department.
So the Momazonians’ nascent protest is a good thing, sure, but transforming the culture of the company will be a much longer battle.