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Amazon Employees Assert Shareholder Rights to Urge Climate Action

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More than a dozen employees at Amazon.com [1] are exercising their rights as shareholders to petition the company to release a comprehensive climate action plan.

“We realized we could use our position as employees and our power and our rights as shareholders to bring visibility of this issue to the board and the top leaders of this company,” said program manager Eliza Pan, who’s been with Amazon five years. “We had this power, and we wanted to leverage that power.”

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She added that “banding together with other shareholders amplifies my voice and makes all of our voices more powerful.”

“Their filing appears to be the first time tech employees have led their own shareholder proposal, according to activist investors,” the New York Times reports. “In the proposal, which will be voted on at Amazon’s annual shareholder meeting next spring, employees asked the company’s board to say how it would respond to climate change and reduce its dependence on fossil fuels.”

The Times says an earlier sign of employee activism surfaced at Google’s parent company, Alphabet, last year, when workers joined a petition led by Zevin Asset Management that attempted to link executive pay to diversity and inclusion targets. The petition failed last year, but Zevin’s director of socially responsible investing said the company plans to resubmit it in cooperation with Google employees.

“Workers are looking at who holds power and where changes can be made,” Co-worker.org [3] Engagement Manager Yana Calou told the Times. “Workers are shareholders themselves, and risks to workers and users are often risks to shareholders, so there is a natural alliance of shared interests.”

Amazon Director of Worldwide Sustainability Kara Hurst said the company is already responding to climate change. “We have set a goal to power our global infrastructure with 100% renewable energy and are investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency innovations.”