In 2013, during my second year at Amazon, I had a baby of my own. Six weeks after my daughter was born, I was diagnosed with cancer…After my surgery, while I was still on maternity leave, I received a form letter saying that the health insurance provided by my employer had been terminated.Ex-Employee Chides Amazon.com by Julia Cheiffetz on Medium.com
I was given detailed instructions by my oncologist’s staff on how to “pump and dump” my breast milk for 24 hours to prevent my daughter from ingesting radioactive matter. There I was, soothing my infant, unsure of whether or not I would be around to see her first birthday.
Told that health insurance cancelled after my surgery
After my surgery, while I was still on maternity leave, I received a form letter saying that the health insurance provided by my employer had been terminated. Dozens of panicked emails and phone calls later, the whole thing was, I was told, a glitch in the system. After a week of back and forth, I was offered COBRA coverage, by which point
I had already switched to my husband’s insurance, where I remained for the duration of my care. I chalked it up to a horrendous administrative error but remain disappointed that a company of Amazon’s size didn’t have better mechanisms in place to prevent something like that from happening during an employee’s maternity leave.
Seemed like I was getting squeezed out at Amazon so I resigned
After a five-month leave, I was nervous and excited to return to work, and I showed up that first day back with a big smile and a phone full of baby pictures to share. I figured I’d catch up with folks and get a high-level update on how the business was doing, since the strategy had evolved from the time I was hired. Here’s what happened instead: I was taken to lunch by a woman I barely knew. Over Cobb salad she calmly explained that all but one of my direct reports — the people I had hired — were now reporting to her. In the months that followed, I was placed on a dubious performance improvement plan, or PIP, a signal at Amazon that your employment is at risk. Not long after that I resigned.
The truth is, I’ve moved on. I’m healthy. I have a great job doing work I love. There’s no question Amazon is an incredible company. I met some of the strongest, most brilliant women of my career there. Unfortunately, many of those women have left. And the voices commenting on the New York Times piece so far have been predominantly male leaders of male-dominated teams.
Jeff: You asked for direct feedback. Women power your retail engine. They buy diapers. They buy books. They buy socks for their husbands on Prime. On behalf of all the people who want to speak up but can’t: Please, make Amazon a more hospitable place for women and parents. Reevaluate your parental leave policies.You can’t claim to be a data-driven company and not release more specific numbers on how many women and people of color apply, get hired and promoted, and stay on as employees. In the absence of meaningful public data — especially retention data — all we have are stories. This is mine.
…this is an excerpt. Read the entire article at
Julia Cheiffetz is an Executive Editor of Harper Collins Publishers and a member of the board of directors of the Lower East Side Girls Club. This post originally appeared on Medium.