Black, Hispanic lawmakers hammer Amazon directors' opposition to diversity rule

Black, Hispanic lawmakers hammer Amazon directors' opposition to diversity rule
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Members of the House Tech Accountability Caucus are frustrated with Amazon's refusal to implement a new measure aimed at improving its board's racial diversity.

Lawmakers on Friday expressed discontent with Amazon board members who are advocating against a shareholder proposal to use the “Rooney Rule” to add new members to its corporate board.

The rule, which has most prominently been used by NFL teams, would require an initial list of candidates to include minorities and women.

“The Rooney Rule should be the floor, not the ceiling,” Reps. Yvette ClarkeYvette Diane ClarkeDem lawmakers, activists get #PayBlackWomen trending Dems introduce bill to eliminate ICE, shift duties elsewhere Political stunner! Crowley knocked off by millennial challenger MORE (D-N.Y.), Robin KellyRobin Lynne KellyDems want GOP chairman to subpoena State Department over cyber docs Lawmakers sound alarm over Amazon face recognition software Dem letter calls for rolling back move targeting drug companies MORE (D-Ill.), Bonnie Watson ColemanBonnie Watson ColemanDem lawmakers, activists get #PayBlackWomen trending Ex-GOP lawmaker: Strzok hearing 'was a humiliating day' for Republicans Fox's Ingraham chides Gohmert for infidelity questions of Strzok: 'I didn't think that was good' MORE (D-N.J.) and Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), who are also members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), wrote in a letter obtained by The Hill, which they plan to send to Amazon on Monday.

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Amazon’s board recently recommended a vote against a shareholder proposal to institute the rule.

“Amazon leadership’s flat rejection of a shareholder proposal supporting the ‘Rooney rule’ in the hiring process for new management and directors is astounding,” the lawmakers wrote.

“Our astonishment is compounded when you consider the fact that your 'customer-centric' company — with over 300 million active users — has zero people of color on your 10-person Board of Directors.”

The lawmakers said they expect Amazon to arrange a meeting with them and to respond with how the company plans to improve diversity in its board of directors and across its workforce.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) will also send a letter to Amazon over its leadership's decision not to support the Rooney Rule's implementation.

In their letter, obtained by The Hill, CHC Chairs Reps. Michelle Lujan GrishamMichelle Lynn Lujan GrishamOvernight Energy: Proposed rule would roll back endangered species protections | House passes Interior, EPA spending | House votes to disavow carbon tax House votes to disavow carbon tax Dems call for family reunification plan from Trump administration MORE (D-N.M.) and Joaquin CastroJoaquin CastroSchiff blasts GOP for Russia probe conduct: 'That's how you obstruct an investigation, not how you conduct one' OAS chief: 'A long shot' to fix migration from Central America White House protesters chant 'Lock him up' at Trump on seventh day of rally MORE (D-Texas) urged the company to consider the rule, noting that of Amazon's top 105 executives, only one is Hispanic.

The letters follow several CBC members' trip to Silicon Valley earlier this month to discuss matters of workforce diversity technology companies. The tech industry — Amazon included — has historically had low diversity among its staff.

A senior Democratic aide told The Hill on Friday that lawmakers want Amazon leadership to take greater responsibility for efforts to increase diversity.

“Members are very mad at this,” the aide said. “The bigger issue is that CBC wants to see more accountability on the senior level. They want CEOs to take leadership."

The aide noted that a potential model for this could be the Internet Association’s recent decision to hire a director of diversity and inclusion following a push from Cleaver and Coleman.