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The New York Times reports that Amazon has circulated a company-wide email saying that it plans to review its policies regarding sexual harassment to ensure that “they are doing their job to provide a harassment-free workplace.”

The memo comes as the company has become enmeshed in a broader controversy about sexual harassment; the Times notes that even as it does so, Amazon has to account for the fact that of its 16 top executives, only one is a woman.

Amazon’s problems can be directly traced to the accusations against Roy Price, who when he served as president of Amazon Studios - responsible for original programming on the site - was accused of sexual harassment by Isa Hackett, an executive producer on Amazon’s original series “The Man in the High Castle.” The original accusations were made in 2015, but nothing happened until they resurfaced this year when a sexual harassment scandal erupted, engulfed and quickly brought down movie producer Harvey Weinstein. When the accusations against Price again came to the fore, he was suspended and, within days, stepped down.

The question being posed within Amazon is why a more intense investigation into the allegations was not conducted in 2015. The Times writes that Price was told two years ago to cut down on how much alcohol he drank at company events, but that appears to be the extent of any disciplinary actions.

The Times writes that “Amazon has taken some steps in recent years to make working at the company more appealing to women. Two years ago, it instituted a more generous maternity leave policy, providing birth mothers with up to 20 weeks of paid leave. But the company’s office culture still has a hard-charging reputation that could make it harder to recruit more women.”
KC's View:
I’ve gotten a number of emails suggesting that this is all reflective of moral decay in Hollywood. But it really is reflective of a a problem that affects many industries - sexual harassment also happens in retailing, manufacturing, finance, government, religion, journalism, the military, the law, medicine, education and pretty much every business that I can think of. And recent reports suggest that the technology sector is no different.

This is about the abuse of power by people who think they are entitled. I’m not sure that we’ve actually reached a tipping point in terms of intolerance for sexual harassment - I don’t have that much confidence in our culture - but I do think it is encouraging that abusers are being outed and their employers are being called to account. If there really is going to be a change, though, I suspect we’ve just seen the tip of the iceberg.