As part of our celebration of International Women’s Day at Amazon, we talked to some of our women employees to learn what this year’s theme – #BreakTheBias – means to them, and how the message has inspired them to uplift others and work towards a more inclusive and equitable society.
Learn more from our leaders and colleagues about challenging stereotypes, championing personal identity, the importance of introspection and lots of inspiring ideas on how to put these into action.
Echarel O’Reily, Lead Operations Associate, Amazon Fresh Chalk Farm
This year’s theme of Breaking the Bias is a very important one for me. Identity is integral to an individual and it can be easy to slip into society’s expectations or biases. As a mixed-heritage person growing up in London, one of the most diverse cities in the world, I have often had people place their own expectations and stereotypes on me.
Once I realised these external expectations and biases didn’t matter to how I see myself, I started to accept myself as someone who doesn’t need to fit into a singular category or experience. Most importantly, I’ve been able to show more acceptance to others too!
This year I’m challenging myself to speak up for what is right, even if I don't always feel confident doing so, whether that is on behalf of others or for myself.
As well as challenging negative behaviour, I want to also promote positive behaviour. I have made a more conscious effort to make sure that I celebrate the achievements of my team and the people around me, which I believe will help build confidence in others.
My family is a matriarchy of strong and diverse women, so this year I will be honouring International Women’s Day by bringing us all together for a day of pampering. It's easy to be preoccupied by everyday life and I wanted to give the women I care about the opportunity to take a breather.
My advice to other women who want to make a difference is to speak up, believe in your instincts, be fearless, be opinionated and trust in yourself.
Laxmipriya Patel, DEI Business Partner, Amazon UK
Bias can influence actions and decisions such as whom we hire, promote, how we interact with persons of a particular group, what advice we consider. Breaking the Bias for me means a step towards creating a liberating culture where people can experience belonging.
I’m trying to be more conscious of any bias that I might form. We often make snap decisions based on imperfect information and the result over time is implicit bias, or the tendency to unknowingly rely on information that reinforces stereotypes.
New experiences can replace older data, and by focusing on the positive attributes and characteristics of people who are outside my in-group, I can help build new and organic patterns and generalisations that are positive ones.
My advice to those wishing to break the bias is to remember that when it comes to simple activities, like one-to-ones and meetings with stakeholders, it is impossible to check all your biases and your distinct cultural perspectives at the door. You bring them with you into every conversation, meeting and leadership decision. The goal isn’t to become free of all biases. The goal is to become aware of your biases and to adjust your processes to serve the people you lead.
Look for and listen to all kinds of voices on race, gender and diversity. Cast a wide net. There are plenty of books, podcasts, movies and blogs that you can learn from. Don’t be discouraged if you love some aspects of what you find, but dislike others. That’s okay. It’s also part of the work.
Cyran Field-Bampton, AWS Enterprise Deal Lead, AWS UK
Breaking the Bias means reinforcing the belief that everyone needs to make a concerted effort to break implicit bias, taking a few minutes to check-in with ourselves for introspection, allowing us to critically diagnose how (and why) we are making decisions or assumptions about people, places or situations. If we make a concerted effort to do this, we can break the bias in our communities and in our workplaces, leading by example to create a more inclusive environment for everyone.
I’m celebrating International Women’s Day this year by considering how I interact and effectively communicate with people, how I participate in meetings and how I make an impact in the spaces that I work in.
Looking forward to the coming year, I will continue to use my voice to initiate conversations that are helpful to challenging bias and stereotypes. I am also assisting my team with DE&I training as we continue to recruit a diverse workforce, we can only retain diverse talent by creating an environment that is supportive, inclusive and conscious of our differences.
Our goal should be to create a workforce that is more inclusive and therefore more innovative. I want other people to take time to interrupt their own bias to help build this.
Lisa Poyser, Head of Store Development and Real Estate, Amazon Fresh International
To me, Breaking the Bias means challenging both the conscious and unconscious stereotypes associated with being a woman. As someone who has worked extensively within the construction industry, I have experienced gender stereotyping first-hand.
To celebrate International Women’s Day this year, my department is holding a virtual (and in-office) coffee hour to talk across our teams about breaking the bias within our industry and celebrating the inspirational women in our lives.
Throughout this year I will also work to address these biases within our wider construction industry. We are aware of the industry’s broader gender representation and work actively to support women looking to develop their careers in construction.
As I have recently stepped into this role, my focus is on working across all teams to understand what training programmes are in place that can support young women considering a career in construction.
For those looking to break rooted bias within their own industry, I would remind decision-makers that gender bias can become cyclical and encourage managers to look outside their usual recruitment sources. They should consider using their DEI networks as a resource for finding more diverse candidates.
Jacqui Chin, Director of Alexa Shopping, Amazon UK
Breaking the Bias is about creating a culture where each person is aware of the bias that they have - particularly their unconscious bias - and takes action to address bias.
Our International Women’s Day program focuses on how we Break the Bias, and I’m really looking forward to exploring the International Women’s Day Festival events available during the month. I’m particularly excited about the Small Business Owner Spotlights, because of my time working in Amazon Retail where I always found it so energising working with women entrepreneurs. I will also be asking “Alexa, tell me about an incredible woman” each morning!
As a ‘UK Women at Amazon’ sponsor, I will continue steering our efforts to inspire, educate and engage thousands of employees on gender diversity, equity and inclusion this year. I’m passionate about our work to help hire and nurture talented women in roles across our business including tech roles. This is particularly important to me as I’m an Alexa Shopping Director and the majority of roles in my team are technical.
My advice on how to Break The Bias? Be curious, learn about the different types of bias to help you identify your own bias and what you see in others. Be bold and take positive action to change your own bias, and to help others change theirs.
Learn more about Amazon’s approach to diversity.