Board Diversity at Amazon (A)
The case revolves around the decisions that the board of directors of ecommerce giant Amazon would need to make in response to the controversial letter that activist shareholder CtW investment group sent to Amazon's shareholders, urging them to vote in favor of a proposal aimed at increasing Amazon's board diversity. The board had formally recommended voting against the proposal in the upcoming annual shareholder meeting. The board's stance ignited an internal debate at Amazon, with several employees questioning the diversity of Amazon's leadership relative to other high-profile technology companies. Institutional Shareholder Services and Glass Lewis, two top advisory firms to public company shareholders, remained divided on the issue. The case presents the opportunity to discuss the importance of having a diverse board, in particular, along the dimensions of race and gender. The case is likely to generate spirited debate about the merits of diversity on corporate boards and the role that a powerful multinational company can play in promoting diversity in technology and business. More fundamentally, the case raises the issue of how organizations should measure diversity.