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Jay Carney: Turnover rates not unique to Amazon

According to a report by New York Times' Jodi Kantor and David Streitfeld, dozens of Amazon employees say their workplace can be brutal
Jay Carney responds to NYT story: Turnover at Amazon consistent with major tech companies 04:47

Amazon is under fire for promoting "purposeful Darwinism" in the workplace that has contributed to high turnover rates, as some current and former employees observed.

According to Amazon Senior Vice President of Global Corporate Affairs and former White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, those numbers are comparable to other big-name businesses.

"The story is sort of based on the idea that there's high turnover and attrition, but the facts are that attrition -- people leaving, cycling in and out of this company -- is completely consistent with other major tech companies in the United States. There's no difference at Amazon," Carney said Monday on "CBS This Morning."

Amazon's company culture under fire 08:51

New York Times' Jodi Kantor and David Streitfeld included a similar response from Amazon in their article, but noted the company did not provide any data to support that claim.

Carney, who has worked at the company for five months, said in the past five years, Amazon has grown from 28,000 employees to 183,000.

"We compete with world-class companies around the country and the globe for the best talent. They could go anywhere. They don't have to work at Amazon," Carney said.

Kantor and Streitfeld spoke with more than 100 current and former employees. Some were permitted to be interviewed by the company while others described their experiences under the condition of anonymity.

Many employees featured in the piece left the retail giant after only several years.

One such person, Bo Olsen, remained in his book marketing position less than two years. He, along with others, recalled scenes of workers crying in the office.

"You walk out of a conference room and you'll see a grown man covering his face," he told the New York Times. "Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk."

Internet giant Amazon turns 20 years old 02:12

While employees highlighted benefits behind the rigorous expectations, many raised issues with the company's culture.

"People who suffered from cancer and serious pregnancy loss who were evaluated very quickly after those things happened. We talked to the mother of a stillborn child who as soon as she came back to work was told she was going to be monitored for her job performance," Kantor said.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos responded to the Times article with a letter to employees that said in part:

"It claims that our intentional approach is to create a soulless, dystopian workplace where no fun is had and no laughter heard. Again, I don't recognize this amazon and I very much hope you don't, either."

Carney said Amazon is an "incredibly compelling" workplace and people are "excited" to be there.

"I think the fundamental flaw in the story is the suggestion that any company that had the kind of culture that the New York Times wrote about, and sort of a cruel, Darwinian or Dickensian kind of atmosphere in the workplace could survive and thrive in today's marketplace," he said.

The online giant is now the world's biggest retailer, beating out Walmart last month. The market value is nearly $250 billion and the company has facilities in 18 states.

But as Amazon continues to innovate new ways to satisfy customers-- from drone delivery to home services -- they are falling behind in other areas, Kantor and Streitfield write.

They note while companies like Microsoft, Google and Netflix have strengthened their family leave policies, Amazon offers no paid paternity leave.

Carney said about 80 percent of U.S. companies also do not.

"I think that a lot of companies in the tech sector and around the country are looking at their policies on maternity leave and paternity leave and evaluating them. We sure are," he said.

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