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Create and own the narrative in your employer branding

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Upon reading the lengthy New York Times article that primarily blasted Amazon’s workplace practices, I’ll admit, I had my suspicions as to how true-to-life it was, at least on the whole. How could a company be so successful if it wasn’t doing right by its people—at least some of the time?

Some of the events, in particular essentially firing people after major health-related issues like cancer, struck me as horrible, of course, but also left me wondering what self-respecting HR leader would endorse the shameful treatment? On the other hand, I have seen some crazy things happen in Corporate America. (That said, the optimist and Amazon customer in me wanted to believe that these stories weren’t reflective of any company, especially one I’ve shopped with for years.)

After a long tenure at a large company, I know a lot can happen “under the radar” that may or may not represent what the company or employer brand stands for on the whole. I’ve seen the best of the best and the worst of the worst in terms of treatment of people and teams. Many of the stories I know, told without broader context of the people involved, the economic environment at the time, etc., could paint a beautiful or ugly picture. But, it’s just that—a snapshot—not a comprehensive view.

As the Amazon story unfolded, I found reading rebuttals, including a response from Jeff Bezos himself, fascinating. One by Amazonian Nick Ciubotariu gained a lot of traction with more than 1.1 million views on LinkedIn and explains how many of the policies are there to put customers first. Makes sense, right?

Jason Seiden in a LinkedIn post captured a fantastic perspective to a multi-faceted and complex situation. The bottom line: everyone’s right—the people who had terrible experiences, the people who love it there, and of course, Bezos himself.

An employer brand is the sum of all the experiences of all the people who work and interact with your company. That said, who tells the story and how they tell it will dictate what will live and breathe outside your organization. If you’re not telling your own stories, and encouraging your team members to do the same, you’re doing a disservice to your brand.

It’s all part of why I love what we do at Stories Inc. We help uncover authentic stories that capture the essence of a brand—both positive and negative. There’s a lot of power in owning your own narrative, and leading the way by sharing it publicly. When a company shares true stories—it creates an atmosphere in which the people who work there feel safe to share theirs as well.

After all, when you pull back the covers of a large organization, there’s always more than meets the eye. Wouldn’t you rather save the New York Times the detective work?