Amazon to usher an inclusive shopping experience this Diwali

Sangeetha Chengappa Bengaluru | Updated on August 13, 2020

Swati Rustagi, Director of HR, Amazon India Operations

Transgenders, persons with disability, military veterans among others to facilitate delivery of orders

This Diwali, Amazon India is all set to usher in a diverse and inclusive shopping experience with 25 transgender, 800 plus PwD (persons with disability), 100-plus military veterans and 6,000 women associates, who are an integral part of its fulfillment network operations staff.

Amid the disruption caused by the Covid-19 outbreak, Amazon India opened up one transgender last mile delivery station, where everyone from the manager to associates and security is a transgender. Additionally, it is running a pilot with transgender associates in a sort centre, where customer packages are sorted before delivery.

“What has been a matter of pride is that Covid has not distracted us from our commitment on D&I (Diversity & Inclusion). For our recently concluded Prime Day sale ramp up, our seasonal hiring had a significant intake of women, especially in our delivery partner network. We focused on bringing in women into senior leadership roles across our organisation. Unlike most organisations who hire military veterans in security functions, we have hired them for a multitude of roles at senior and mid-management levels and have focused on hiring and improving our pipelines on PwD for managerial positions,” Swati Rustagi, Director of HR, Amazon India Operations, told BusinessLine.

In January 2017, Amazon pioneered the ‘Silent Delivery Station’ in Mumbai, that started as a pilot with 4 hard-of-hearing associates working alongside associates in an Amazon delivery station. Now, there are 2 Silent Delivery Stations in Mumbai which are completely staffed by the speech and hearing impaired.

Covid-19 initiatives

For all its front line staff, Amazon introduced several support initiatives, including 14 days additional leave, Amazon Relief Fund, Partner Fund for subsistence wage, and special financial incentives during the lockdown. Amazon paid 20-50 per cent higher compensation during the months of April and May. A ‘Thank You Bonus’ of ₹10,000 was given in June to all its front line staff including drivers, security, housekeeping. Keeping in mind the pandemic, Amazon temporarily allowed its associates to carry phones on the floor so that their families can connect with them and vice versa.

“At Amazon India, we already extend insurance coverage to same gender partners and as part of our continued commitment towards D&I agenda, we have recently introduced support for sex reassignment surgery for our regular staff. Inclusion is the foundation of diversity programs. No good diversity program can grow and flourish unless inclusion gets equal if not more focus than the diversity agenda. Our focus here in addition to our “ input mechanisms”, is on affinity groups, support groups, sensitization workshops, infrastructure investments like transgender He/She toilets, specific safety solutions for hearing and speech impaired, additional training for our managers on inclusive leadership and a special cohort for supporting military veterans to settle into Amazon post their service to the country” said Rustagi. Amazon plans to double the number of employees under its Military Veterans Employment Program from 100 at present to 200 by the end of 2020.

Published on August 11, 2020

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(The story has been updated to reflect the correct data in respect of the number of transgender associates at Amazon, and the number of transgender last-mile delivery stations. The original report had been based on information provided by an Amazon spokesperson, which the company has since corrected.)

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