(Bloomberg)—Three of every five workers Amazon.com Inc. added to its rolls in the U.S. during the year ended October 2020 were people of color in laborer jobs, suggesting the company weathered the pandemic’s surge in online shopping thanks to members of racial groups that are underrepresented in the retailer’s corporate ranks.
The statistics come from reports for 2020 and 2019 that Amazon provided the government, which were posted Wednesday on the company’s workforce data web page. Employers are required annually to submit that data, which breaks down their U.S. workforce by racial and gender groups and standardized job categories, to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
In the past two years, Amazon has publicly laid out diversity goals aimed at making the company look more like society as a whole, including increasing the number of women in senior technical jobs and doubling the number of high-level Black employees. The company is also facing several lawsuits from women who have alleged harassment, discrimination and retaliation. Amazon has denied wrongdoing.
The Seattle-based ecommerce giant employed about 379,000 more people in the U.S. in October 2020 than it did a year earlier, according to the reports. Some of that figure likely reflects regular hiring, but the time period also coincides with a few highly publicized hiring surges in Amazon’s logistics ranks as the company sought to keep up with overwhelming demand from newly homebound shoppers.
Black, Hispanic, Asian, and other minority “Laborers & Helpers” accounted for 61% of the additional employees, the data show. Advocates for better racial and gender representation in corporate America have pushed for companies to proactively release that data. Amazon previously made public some of the forms, known as EEO-1, but stopped the practice after data covering 2016. Since then, the company has added almost 800,000 U.S. employees, becoming the second largest U.S. employer after Walmart Inc., which has pledged to make public its EEO-1. Amazon has also periodically posted workforce demographic data using its own categories for employees.
The federal data show Amazon is far more diverse in its warehouses than the technologists, product designers, and other professionals in its corporate ranks, where the vast majority of employees identify as White or of Asian descent. Black employees in 2020 accounted for about a third of Amazon’s employees in the “Laborers & Helpers” category, but 11% of managers, and 3.6% of executives.
Still, the latter figures represent an increase from 2019. People of color accounted for 42% of the additions to Amazon’s executive ranks in 2020.
Women made up about 46% of Amazon’s total U.S. workforce in 2020, including about 29% of people in Amazon’s managerial and executive ranks.
Amazon, No. 1 in the 2021 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000, last year told New York City’s Comptroller that it would release its EEO-1 form, one among dozens of companies that agreed to greater transparency following a pressure campaign by the office that oversees the city’s pension funds.
Walmart management promotions for black employees have slowed
Walmart Inc.’s (No. 2) efforts to increase racial diversity in its senior ranks are wavering, new data on slowing promotion rates for Black workers show.
The nation’s biggest private employer said African American and Black employees made up 13.5% of U.S. promotions in the first half of this fiscal year, according to a midyear diversity report released Friday. That’s down from 14.1% at the end of last year and 17.2% at the midpoint of 2020. The figure includes those elevated from hourly jobs into management, as well as managers promoted into more senior positions.
The decline illustrates the challenges Black employees continue to experience when trying to move up the corporate ladder, despite widespread pledges to address racial inequities made in the wake of George Floyd’s murder last year.
Unlike other big U.S. companies, Walmart has not announced specific targets for representation of women or minorities in its senior ranks. The retailer has set aside $100 million to create a center on racial equity and has enhanced its disclosure of diversity statistics, which now come out twice a year.
“While we are encouraged by the growth of our Black and African American representation across our leadership team, we recognize that we are on a journey and have more work to do,” Walmart spokeswoman Melissa Hill said.
In an internal survey late last year, some high-ranking Black managers at Walmart said career advancement is difficult at the retail chain and they wouldn’t recommend working there. A majority of those surveyed gave mediocre rankings for career satisfaction.
Despite Black employees receiving a lower proportion of promotions, the share of Walmart company officers—those at the vice president level or above—who identify as African American or Black rose to 9.1% from 6.9% a year ago. Black workers made up 28.7% of all new hires in the U.S., up slightly from a year ago.
Data for the share of total management promotions received by Black employees weren’t disclosed by Walmart in 2019 or prior years. Walmart also revealed that the average age of its 1.5 million-person U.S. workforce is 38 years old, and about 30% of that group is 24 or younger.