U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica, Laurelton, Rosedale, Cambria Heights, Saint Albans, Springfield Gardens, Far Rockaway, JFK Airport) this week fired off a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, asking for the world’s richest man to commit to a comprehensive and specific diversity and inclusion plan for its planned second headquarters (HQ2) in Long Island City.

    Also signing onto the letter were National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial, and New York Urban League President and CEO Arva Rice. The three are  concerned Amazon will employ a vast majority of white men in HQ2, which would not reflect New York City’s diversity.

    U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks

    Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

    “It would be completely unacceptable for Amazon to replicate Seattle’s currently existing overwhelmingly white male workforce structure here in New York City,” wrote Meeks.

    “New York City and the borough of Queens are the most racially and ethnically diverse urban area in the entire world. There are nearly 180 languages spoken in its public schools. The diversity of New York has the potential to fuel unprecedented innovation and creativity as Amazon embarks on a new phase of growth.  But this won’t happen without a comprehensive and intentional plan for diversity and inclusion. Amazon New York must look like New York, and we’re ready to help Amazon achieve this.

    “As such, we respectfully request that Amazon enter into a binding Memorandum of Understanding encompassing both Community Benefits and Diversity and Inclusion across the areas of governance, personnel, procurement and philanthropy,”the letter added.

    Meeks said this project should not proceed without a firm commitment from Amazon to make sure New Yorkers from every background benefit from this decision, especially given the vast commitment of public resources from the city and state.

    “It would be completely unacceptable for Amazon to replicate Seattle’s currently existing overwhelmingly white male workforce structure here in New York City,” he said.

    According to the Amazon worksite,  in 2017, 63 percent of Amazon’s managerial employees are white, 21 percent are Asian, and less than or equal to 6 percent are African-American, Latinx or other.

    In terms of general employment, 42 percent are white, 22 percent are African-American, and less than or equal to 14 percent are Asian, Latinx or other.

    Amazon does not have a person of color as a board member, and according to reports, there are no African Americans or Latinos among Amazon’s senior executives.

    In addition to Amazon being a predominately white company, men represent 74 and 60 percent in managerial and general employment, respectively.

    In Seattle, the home of Amazon’s original headquarters, 68 percent of its demographic is white and 50 percent are male, according to the U.S. Census, which in the tech eCommerce’s defense, is a feasible explanation to why the company lacks diversity.

    Meeks said this project should not proceed without a firm commitment from Amazon to make sure New Yorkers from every background benefit from this decision, especially given the vast commitment of public resources from the city and state.

    “It would be completely unacceptable for Amazon to replicate Seattle’s currently existing overwhelmingly white male workforce structure here in New York City,” he said.

    Amazon did not return several emails in time for this post.

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