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Amazon adds new corporate values as Jeff Bezos prepares to depart

The company's leadership principles get new additions regarding being a good employer and embracing corporate responsibility.

Close-up of an Amazon sign with the company's smile logo on the side of a warehouse.

Amazon says it wants to improve its workplace and its impact on communities and the environment. Regulators are investigating the company over these issues, too.

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Amazon has drafted two new corporate values for its leadership principles, additions that echo recent comments by CEO Jeff Bezos, who formally hands over his role next week. On Thursday, the e-commerce giant updated its list of 14 principles, an internally revered document, adding values that speak to controversies that've dogged Amazon as it's come to dominate multiple sectors of the tech industry. 

The new values -- "Strive to be Earth's best employer" and "Success and scale bring broad responsibility" -- come as Amazon's treatment of its warehouse workers, partner retailers and the environment attract scrutiny from regulators. The addition of the new principles was reported earlier by Bloomberg.

Amazon didn't comment on who drove the addition of the new principles or why the leadership principles were updated at this moment. But they're reminiscent of comments Bezos, who steps down Monday, has made in recent months. 

In an April letter to shareholders, Bezos wrote that Amazon needs a "better vision for its employees' success." He also said the company should strive to be Earth's best and safest employer. 

"Our local communities, planet, and future generations need us to be better every day," says the description of the new principle regarding responsibility. Employees have voiced concerns about Amazon's impact on the environment, a topic explicitly mentioned in the principle, as well as the business' effect on local communities and its partners. 

The additions come as Amazon faces ongoing investigations for potential antitrust violations. The company has reportedly hired several antitrust experts in recent months. On Wednesday, Amazon told the Federal Trade Commission that its new chair, Amazon critic Lina Khan, should recuse herself from investigations of the company. 

Amazon has also faced criticism over the working conditions faced by its warehouse employees and subcontracted delivery drivers. Both sets of workers have said they're up against unmeetable demands during long shifts and that they worry they'll fall behind if they stop to use the toilet. The company faces scrutiny from the National Labor Relations Board over its treatment of workers who organize walkouts and its actions during a recent unionizing campaign at an Alabama warehouse. Corporate workers have also taken issue with the company's handling of workplace harassment and diversity efforts, with some employees filing a slate of lawsuits over these issues.

Amazon has countered that it gives workers reasonable workloads and helps them learn how to reach those goals. It's also argued in court that it doesn't need to pay workers for time spent walking to break rooms or waiting in line for security checks or COVID screenings. The company said its warehouse employees can use the bathroom whenever they need to while acknowledging that drivers struggle to find bathrooms on their routes. (The lack of bathrooms for delivery drivers is an industry-wide problem.)

The e-commerce giant has recently announced efforts to reduce injuries at warehouses with its WorkingWell program, as well as a collaboration with the National Safety Council that'll research workplace injuries and create an advisory council on prevention, among other things. 

A recent investigative report by The New York Times found that Amazon has viewed its warehouse workers as short-term employees, not as people building a career in logistics. The new principle around being the planet's best employer embraces the idea that workers may not always stay in their roles at Amazon. 

"Leaders have a vision for and commitment to their employees' personal success, whether that be at Amazon or elsewhere," the description says.