Amazon on $15/hour wage: ‘We listened to our critics’

The company is hoping to bolster its reputation by increasing hourly pay for workers in warehouses and distribution centers. Here’s how it’s sharing the message.

Amazon wants to change its reputation as an employer.

The company has been the target of several investigations into workplace complaints and employment practices. Now, Amazon wants to show its compassionate side—and is willing cough up some serious cash to do it.

Amazon announced that it would raise all base hourly salaries to $15 an hour, the benchmark many advocates have pushed for in the fight over the national minimum wage.

Amazon announced the change in a blog post, which read in part:

Amazon today announced it is increasing its minimum wage to $15 for all full-time, part-time, temporary (including those hired by agencies), and seasonal employees across the U.S.—effective November 1. The new Amazon $15 minimum wage will benefit more than 250,000 Amazon employees, as well as over 100,000 seasonal employees who will be hired at Amazon sites across the country this holiday.

“We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO. “We’re excited about this change and encourage our competitors and other large employers to join us.”

Amazon’s public policy team will also begin advocating for an increase in the federal minimum wage.

“We will be working to gain Congressional support for an increase in the federal minimum wage. The current rate of $7.25 was set nearly a decade ago,” said Jay Carney, Senior Vice President of Amazon Global Corporate Affairs. “We intend to advocate for a minimum wage increase that will have a profound impact on the lives of tens of millions of people and families across this country.”

The move is getting early positive response.

The Verge reported:

The move was met with cautious praise by campaigners. Senator Bernie Sanders praised Amazon’s decision, and said that there was now “absolutely no reason” why other profitable businesses could not also do the same.

“I congratulate Mr. Bezos on his decision and I hope very much that other corporate leaders around the country will follow,” Sanders said in a press conference after the Amazon announcement.

James Bloodworth, the British journalist who spent three weeks working undercover at an Amazon fulfillment center in the UK, tweeted, “This is good, though a lot more still to do…now stop with the draconian productivity targets are disciplinary policies.”

Amazon and its spokespeople shared the news on Twitter.

Amazon executives say they are excited to “lead”:

They’re also sharing video of employees getting the good news:

Here are three takeaways from Amazon’s announcement:

1. Answer potential questions. With a move this big, there are bound to be questions, and organizations can get ahead of naysayers and doubters by offering a list of potential questions with the answers. The exercise puts your communications team in the shoes of your audience and forces them to consider what your stakeholders will want to know . Add value to your press release by anticipating the big questions your audience will have.

Amazon added some questions to the end of its blog post, confirming that employee compensation packages would improve across the board and that employees already receiving $15 an hour would get a pay hike, too.

2. Use video. Press releases and corporate statements can feel emotionless, even inhuman. A video can convey a much more powerful message. When leaders shared news of the pay increase with employees, the cheerful reception put a human face on a story about numbers.

3. Admit when you’re wrong. Amazon did not try to hide its previous stance on wages—and even acknowledged its critics. By expressing a change of heart, rather than pretending to have always been on the right side of a particular issue, your message will have more authenticity and won’t feel like a crass PR stunt.

What do you think of Amazon’s announcement, PR Daily readers?

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