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Amazon, it’s pointless to beat around the bush

Gabriele Guglielmi – Filcams and OpenCorporation International Policies Coordinator

In 2010 the environmental disaster of the BP (British Petroleum) Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico was an accident waiting to happen, and became a case study in risk management. Social and environmental rating agencies (e.g. Vigeo) had published information regarding the BP company that had cut by 25% the budget allocated to safety & security with also the consequent flight of investors well before April 20, eleven years ago.

In 2017, the Ryanair pilots’ strike sounded as a wake-up call for investors who abandoned the mirage of “long-term sustainability of capitalization” in the Irish airline.

Deliveroo, #Flopperoo for the London Stock Exchange, lost a third of its value in one day last March (Editor’s note: 30% is the equivalent of the labor costs that companies in the sector will have to pay to “riders” as soon as possible).

In this context we believe can also be proposed the a sharp analysis of Sergio Bocconi on the insert “L’Economia” of April 19, 2021 on the Corriere della Sera: “The paradox of big tech runs but loses reputation” which, starting from analyzing its advertising, points out to us that Amazon must recover a greater attention towards workers, environment and gender balance, and highlights that in the year of Covid, Jeff Bezos increased sales by 37.6%, jobs by 63% … but in reputation Amazon “fell to 92nd place losing about 40 positions in the Global reporting Trak 100“. We add that even in the OpenCorporation Ranking Jeff Bezos does not fare well, 499th out of 588 with a Rating of 20.57, down from the already paltry 20.98 of the previous year.

Let’s stick with theAmazon case for a closer look at the union’s point of view.

The two most recent facts seem to be of opposite sign: in Italy the first “general strike” of the “Amazon supply chain” (logistics, commerce, transport, workers, etc.). (logistics, trade, transport, temporary workers …) was a success, while the unionization in the warehouse of Bessemer in Alabama (1,798 votes against 738, a result already challenged by the unions because Amazon would have interfered in the vote) a great disappointment.

In the U.S. union “there is, however, something new” as wrote by Noam Scheiber on The New York Times and reported last April 16 on issue 1405 of Internazionale:

“In fact, union leaders said they would increase efforts to bring the company’s economic and employment model to the public’s attention and oppose it, rather than continuing with elections in individual workplaces. This strategy includes initiatives ranging from strikes to demonstrations to campaigns to raise awareness about the power Amazon wields over customers and competitors.”

For American unions as well, in addition to, at last welcome back, the “political” strike, the “reputation”, the consumers, the comparison with the competition also come into play. Regarding “competition” the BBC writes: “In the last month the Chinese anti-trust authority has fined a total of twelve large companies, including two other technological giants (besides Alibaba) Tencent and Baidu”, and about “unions”, in China the situation is obviously worse, but the U.S. is not joking either, see the card: North American trade, transportation and service unions.

Reputation:

two approaches compared, that of THE REPTRAK COMPANY of the REPUTATION INSTITUTE Global reporting Trak 100 and the “union ” approach of the OpenCorporation Ranking

Comparing these two “organizations” is complicated and risky both due to size and history, but it is what it is:

   – In the 2021 publication “the Global RepTrak 100” the Reputation Institute, the world leader in corporate reputation data, condenses its more than 15 years of experience;

  –  OpenCorporation was founded in 2015 as a project co-funded by the European Commission publishes the first ranking in 2017 and the book “Be open Be accountable”, since 2018, is part of the Filcams Study Center has in Observatory about ten thousand multinational companies publishing annually the “reputational” ranking of more than five hundred.

Even with these different dimensions, we are able to compare the two observatories that have the common goal of measuring and comparing the reputation of companies. We have the comfort of having obtained some similar results, but we also note many different ones that give us the cue to understand whether they derive solely from applying two different methodologies or also from other causes, from weaknesses that can become resources for improving approaches, analysis and results.

The comparison is very interesting and a herald of many facets that we can gradually compare. To begin with, today we will analyze the respective evaluations of the 65 companies that can be compared because they are present in both rankings.

To make the two rankings comparable, we have proceeded as follows:

65 companies in the Global reporting Trak 100 are rated in the 588 of the OpenCorporation Ranking; 30 are among the ten thousand in the observatory so they are not comparable as are the remaining 5 that we will include in OC in 2022.

Picture 1: OpenCorporation 2021 04 Vs RepTrak

In Picture 1 where the RepTrak rank is spread over the OC rank there are three groups of similar size, 24 are highly dissimilar and better rated in OC, 20 with similar ratings and 21 are better rated in RepTrak.

Companies for which the rating/comparison are similar:

Well-rated by OC and poorly rated by RepTrak

those specularly well rated by RepTrak and poorly rated by OC

Picture 2 – 2021 RepTrak Vs OpenCorporation 2021 04

Picture 2 where the OC rank is spread over the RepTrak one is therefore specular to Picture 1.

Being able to overlay the two observers because they are very similar we formulate two final thoughts.

RepTrak, measures seven reputation factors:

1.Products and services 2. Innovation 3. Workplace 4. Governance 5. Citizenship 6. Leadership 7. performance

OpenCorporation, in addition to the Ranking, measures nine.

AccessibilityEnvironmentDiversity and InclusionSustainable FinanceTaxation and Fiscal ImpactSocial ResponsibilitySocial Dialogue, Working ConditionsTransparency

It’s worth delving into the similarities; some of these factors are similar, some others are different more in name than in content; but these situations are still only a third of the total sample observed.

It should be better understood why two thirds of the evaluations are very different.

As far as we are concerned, let’s start right away with an analysis of the OC, noting that the types of companies that are very present in the OC Observatory, such as those in the energy sector (e.g. ENEL, Iberdola) or in the financial sector (e.g. Allianz, Unicredit) are not present in RepTrak.

Companies in sectors observed by both, e.g.:

Why are you so far behind in the RepTrak rankings?

And to the following:

we ask: why are you not in RepTrak at all?

Provisional conclusion:

when I think of RepTrak and OpenCorporation I am reminded of the short story where OC is like the fly on the horn, of the RepTrak ox , who answers a fellow fly who is flying around asking her what she was doing, “can’t you see? We’re ploughing!”

Both organizations are “ploughing” the ground of reputation, we do it from different points of observation, analysis, evaluation, and by joining the work and efforts we will multiply the results.

Returning to the title “Amazon, pointless to beat around the bush” let’s start from this “similar” value judgment to collaborate.

Tab: North American Trade, Transportation and services   

Written by Noam Scheiber, The New York Times and reported last April 16 on issue 1405 of Internazionale  

“Employers have the ability to wage aggressive campaigns against unions, and the law
does little to punish those who threaten or retaliate against workers who try to organize.”  “According to union leaders … wealthy and powerful corporations are far more brazenly
exploiting the advantages afforded to them under U.S. labor legislation U.S. .Before
Amazon, the symbol of this attitude was Walmart. Over the years, the union has scored
victories with an alternative model, one that Ruth Milkman, a labor sociologist at New York
City University’s Graduate Center, has called “air war plus land war.” The idea is to combine workplace actions, such as strikes (the land war), with pressure on company executives
through public awareness campaigns (the air war). The SEIU  (Service employees
international union) used this strategy to organize cleaning workers in the cleaners in the
1980s and to achieve successes for fast food workers in recent years. “There’s almost never an election,” Milkman says. “It’s all about putting pressure on those who have the power to make decisions.” “In early 2019, Appelbaum’s union, (RWDSU) will be working with nonprofits, local politicians, and other labor organizations, helped scuttle a deal that would have
brought a second Amazon headquarters to New York, pointing the finger at the company’s anti-union attitude.” “According to Mary Kay Henry, president of SEIU, workers and politicians could force Amazon to sit at the bargaining table even before a law is passed forcing the
company to do so. One example is U.S. President Joe Biden’s warning against the possibility of intimidation or coercion during the union vote in Alabama. “If Biden and Secretary of Labor Labor Marty Walsh were to ask McDonald’s, Amazon and other large companies to set up a negotiating table with labor and government,” Henry says, “it would send a very strong signal and help and strengthen the process.”   

RWDSU (United Food and Commercial Workers International Union) President Stuart Appelbaum https://www.rwdsu.info/
UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers International Union) Anthony “Marc” Perrone International President https://www.ufcw.org/
SEIU (Service Employees International Union) Mary Kay Henry, International President https://www.seiu.org/
International Brotherhood of Teamsters James P. Hoffa GENERAL PRESIDENT
https://teamster.org/  
Union accuses Amazon of illegally interfering with vote (April 19, 2021 – By JOSEPH PISANI, AP NEWS)

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