Amazon Jeff Bezos Has Promoted A Former GM Exec. To His Inner Circle

Amazon Has Promoted A Former GM Executive To Bezos’ Inner Circle

Former GM executive Alicia Boler Davis. Image Twitter/@GM

Amazon has added its first Black executive to Jeff Bezos’ inner circle after calls for the retail giant to add more diversity.

Alicia Boler Davis, who was serving as Amazon’s vice president of Global Customer Fulfillment, has become the fourth and only Black member to join Bezos’ senior team, known as the S-team.

Davis, who joined Amazon last year after serving as GM’s head of Global Manufacturing, is joining the S-team along with John Felton, vice president of Global Delivery Services, and Dave Treadwell, vice president of Amazon’s eCommerce Foundation.

Since before Amazon became a household name, Bezos has worked closely with a small team of executives in the company to shape and execute large ideas. The details and people on the S-team have been kept a secret, but many know the group is largely male and largely white.

Although more than 25% of Amazon domestic employees are Black, the level of diversity does not include the boardroom. Bezos has tried to show diversity in the organization, putting out a statement supporting Black Lives Matter and saying he was “happy to lose” customers over his support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

However, many cite Amazon’s work with law enforcement agencies selling its facial recognition technology to them, as the opposite of being for Black lives. The American Civil Liberties Union ran a test on Amazon’s software and found it incorrectly matched 28 members of Congress to photos of people arrested for a crime. It also disproportionately misidentified Congress members who were not White.
Many also point to the treatment of Amazon’s non-white employees during the coronavirus pandemic. Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, a group of employee activists at the company, noted Chris Smalls was fired for organizing a protest against unsafe conditions during the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S.

“Actions speak louder than words,” the group said. “Amazon’s words mean nothing when they are firing Black employees organizing for better working conditions, when leadership planned racist smears against Chris Smalls, calling him ‘not smart or articulate’, when they deny our call for racial equity assessments in their business decisions and eliminating the environmental racism of its pollution, when they supply facial recognition software and Ring surveillance video access to police departments that are killing Black people with impunity.”

Davis’ appointment to the S-team could be a step in the right direction. Last year, Amazon promoted Fashion Vice President Christine Beauchamp and Advertising Vice President Colleen Aubrey to the S-team, following criticism of the company’s lack of diversity.