People – staff, suppliers and reputation

Amazon security staff in one of its warehouses in Germany have allegedly been intimidating low wage staff, whilst wearing neo-Nazi uniforms.

Camp Amazon

Camp Amazon

In any large organisation people represent one the greatest areas of risk to its reputation.  Never more so than now – staff behaviour, photos, tweets, Facebook-ing all have the potential to draw the attention of millions of global eyeballs – scrutinising your organisation and how it operates

Outsourced functions (in this case security) can be even more challenging to manage and control.  How do you ensure your supply chain doesn’t damage your reputation?

Amazon’s difficulty here is what this incident indicates about its broader approach – its treatment of its workers, and the conditions in which they operate.  At the moment Amazon scores highly on surveys of well respected brands.

But people will think twice if they believe they are supporting a company whose values are at odds with society.  This applies not just to customers, but regulators, governments and tax authorities.

It was announced that Amazon has terminated its contract with the security firm involved.

Amazon is reviewing its approach to corporate reputation management, and it would be well advised to consider specifically the implications of supplier selection and behaviour.

This has profound implications for its business.

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