This week Amazon’s Web Services department declared a commitment to achieving 100 percent renewable energy usage to reduce the company’s environmental footprint. After the company’s continued criticism about using “dirty power,” from organizations like Greenpeace, the declaration sounded like a great move for Amazon, but in reality is somewhat controversial.
After a company, especially one as large and powerful as Amazon, makes a public declaration such as this, the public expects an explanation for how and when the company plans to achieve its goal. Amazon however, did not back this statement up with any real evidence, and to make matters worse an Amazon spokesperson even refused to respond to the public’s questions regarding the company’s statement. The Spokesperson instead referred the public to an Amazon corporate web page about Amazon Web Service’s operations, a very poor decision in public relations.
While the page states the company’s new claim, and briefly mentions an environmental benefit of the company’s practices, it doesn’t go into any further explanation about how the company plans on carrying its goal out, or provide any clear deadline for when this goal should be achieved by.
In Amazon’s statement, the company acknowledges that the goal will take a long time to achieve, and that it is a long-term commitment for the company. However, just saying something like this does not really make the cut anymore. Nowadays a company needs to state a clear date and provide a strategic plan when making commitments especially as large as this, to make the declaration and goal feel more transparent and realistic.
The public expects for corporations like Amazon to stick to what they say and achieve their goals. If there is no end date for the public to assess whether or not the goal was achieved, the statement just ends up looking like a fraudulent pipe dream rather than an actual move towards improvement, just as Amazon’s statement now looks.
An example of a company that made a statement similar to Amazon’s, but that delivered it in a much better way was Ikea. I discussed Ikea’s sustainability practices in a previous post where I mentioned how the company declared a goal to produce more energy than the company uses, by 2020 and provided a plan for how they will achieve this. As you can see unlike Amazon, Ikea provides that end date to check in on and asses the company’s achievements as well as some sort of strategy about how they will go about it, which is what the public is looking for.
In my opinion Amazon’s unbacked up declaration makes the company look unprofessional, because it is clear the company was unprepared to make a statement about a goal as large as this one. The company should have already come up with its plan and should have been ready to explain how it will execute this goal before announcing it to the public.
It seems to me that Amazon was just looking for ways to promote itself as a company moving towards sustainable practices to combat its recent negative media attention, and compete with its competitors. Some of these competitors include Apple, Facebook, and Google, all of which have already laid out plans for how they plan to achieve their renewable energy goals for the future.
It would have been much more beneficial if Amazon had taken more time to strategically come up with its proposal for how it is going to better achieve renewable energy, and then pitched and promoted this strategy to the public, rather than the reverse. All we can do now is wait and see if the company gets its act together, and finds a way to back its huge claim up.