Amazon’s practices & tools make it one of the most important companies in the world of data science. Given this, unless we have been off the grid over the past few days, it is almost impossible to ignore the tech & engineering community discussion about the New York Times article on the brutal culture at Amazon. The article shares anecdotes of employees being expected to work long hours with a brutally frank atmosphere & how unhappy employees are. Defenders of Amazon have called it a biased viewpoint based on anecdotes from dissatisfied ex-employees. Silicon Valley luminaries have come down largely in favor of Amazon saying that this is normal for high growth innovative companies. Instead of opinions, perspectives & finger pointing, why don’t we use data to shed more light on the situation.
One of the richest sources of information on employee satisfactions & ratings is Glassdoor. Employees go on Glassdoor to rate the company, share salary information & view job information. Each person can rate the company overall and also along several factors such as compensation, work-life balance, career opportunities etc. We decided to use the dataset to focus on employee satisfaction & ratings given by engineers for Amazon & its peer group. This group of 20 companies are the top publicly listed tech & internet companies and includes Microsoft, Google, Apple, Facebook & LinkedIn.
Our rankings showed that Amazon was the median ranked company with ratings of about 3.5. Companies with similar ratings include Apple, Twitter, Yahoo, Microsoft, Intel & Cisco. While the ratings are below top ranked companies by engineers such as Facebook & Google, being in the same level as other iconic companies such as Apple & Microsoft is not a terrible thing.
This case study of anecdotes Vs data goes to the heart of discussions on data driven journalism Vs story driven journalism. Traditionally, journalists interviewed “100s of people” and wrote a story from it. However, in today’s world when data is easily accessible, it may disprove the opinions and anecdotes that reporters base their story on. Is it time to change the reporting process in news organizations? Along with fact checkers, should there be a data science team to validate & cross check a reporter's story to see if easily available date contradicts a story line?
A table on the detailed ranking & the number of reviews for each company & notes are available on Zimlon.