Letter From Our Leadership
A message from Kara Hurst, Vice President of Worldwide Sustainability at Amazon, about our sustainability efforts in 2021.
Every day at Amazon, we ask ourselves, “How can we make this product, this service, or this experience better for our customers?” We continually seek ways to challenge ourselves and improve how we deliver for our customers, support our employees, and accelerate the pace of innovation. This mindset is ingrained in our culture, so every day, we apply the same relentless pursuit to delivering progress on our sustainability commitments.
The journey to become more sustainable is not simple or straightforward for any organization. For a company of the size and broad scope of Amazon, it’s a big challenge. But at Amazon, we don’t shy away from big challenges. We innovate and create. We don’t have all the answers today, but we believe in the need to act now.
This is reflected in one of our newest Leadership Principles, introduced last year: Success and Scale Bring Broad Responsibility. It says that “we are big, we impact the world, and we are far from perfect. We must be humble and thoughtful about even the secondary effects of our actions. Our local communities, planet, and future generations need us to be better every day.”
We apply our Leadership Principles daily—whether we are discussing ideas for new inventions or deciding on the best approach to solve a problem. Throughout 2021, we embedded the spirit of this Leadership Principle into our everyday actions and continued to make progress on our environmental and social commitments.
Progress for the Planet
In 2019, we co-founded The Climate Pledge and made a commitment to achieve net-zero carbon by 2040—10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement. We invited others to join us and there are now more than 300 businesses and organizations across 51 industries and 29 countries that have signed the Pledge, which means we are collectively coming at the climate crisis from nearly every sector and nearly every angle.
As part of our efforts to decarbonize our business, we became the world’s largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy in 2020, and last year, we reached 85% renewable energy across our business. We continue to expand our use of zero-emission transportation such as electric delivery vans, cargo bikes, and on-foot deliveries, and in 2021, more than 100 million packages were delivered to our customers’ doorsteps globally using zero-emission vehicles. We are also investing in nature-based solutions, and last year, we helped to create the Lowering Emissions by Accelerating Forest finance (LEAF) Coalition—a global initiative of governments and leading companies that has already mobilized $1 billion to protect the world’s tropical rainforests. We will continue to act boldly to address climate change and to invest in solutions to help meet our commitment to reach net-zero carbon across our operations by 2040.
Progress for People
Our ability to be a force for change on behalf of our planet relies on diverse perspectives from smart, passionate, and committed people from all backgrounds. In 2021, we continued to make progress on our diversity goals, including increasing the number of Black directors and vice presidents by almost 70%, and we remain committed to increasing diverse representation in our workforce at the most senior levels. We’ve helped more than 70,000 Amazon employees learn new skills and advance their careers as part of our Upskilling 2025 pledge, and we are enabling thousands of hourly employees in 14 countries to earn certificates and degrees through Amazon Career Choice. Earlier this year, we also expanded travel reimbursements for our employees in the U.S. to cover treatment for non-life-threatening medical issues when travel is required, including elective abortion and infertility, starting in 2022.
In our communities, we are supporting initiatives to address the affordable housing crisis—including a commitment of more than $2 billion from the Amazon Housing Equity Fund, launched last year. As of March 2022, these commitments have already preserved or created 8,000 affordable units to house more than 18,000 people. Also last year—in service to people in our communities and supply chain—we signed the United Nations’ (UN) Women’s Empowerment Principles, which offers businesses guidance on ways to promote gender equity in the workplace and global community; we created a $150 million Black Business Accelerator program in partnership with our Black Employee Network affinity group; and we launched a $12 million, five-year partnership with the U.S. National Safety Council to uncover new ways to prevent and address musculoskeletal disorders.
Since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in early 2022, we quickly mobilized to provide humanitarian aid and assistance to the people of Ukraine, including financial and in-kind donations, cloud computing credits, resettlement support, and more. We are proud of how our global teams came together to support this effort and are honored to have been awarded the Ukraine Peace Prize for the support AWS has shown the Ukraine government and the Ukrainian people.
Progress Every Day
We are proud of the progress we’ve made, but we recognize we have more to do. Our everyday actions to deliver progress are in service of achieving long-term, systemic change that improves the well-being of people, communities, and the planet.
The path to achieving some of our goals will be long and complex, but we are not deterred. At Amazon, we thrive on pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. We are taking the same tenacity we use to invent and problem solve for our customers and applying it to how we help address some of the world’s biggest challenges. I hope you enjoy learning more about how we are doing this as you read our 2021 Sustainability Report.
Vice President, Worldwide Sustainability, Amazon