Alibaba’s Work Culture: Inspiring or Detrimental?Damien Moye
If Alibaba is the Amazon of China, then Jack Ma is the Jeff Bezos of China. He’s the IT support mogul over there. Ma’s story is an inspiration (which I’ll get into later). However, some of his workers are protesting what they call brutal work conditions. Alibaba’s work culture: Inspiring or Detrimental?
So for anyone who wants to work for Alibaba, they must abide by the ‘996 rule’. That means employees work from 9am to 9pm for 6 days a week. Ma defended this ruling. He tells people off the bat if you’re looking for an 8-hour lifestyle, then don’t come to Alibaba. He also calls working 12 hour days ‘a blessing’. But obviously, not everyone thinks so.
Because there is an online labor movement they call 996.ICU. It’s now one of the most popular websites in China. They say the 996 rule exploits workers, and the only reason Ma does it is to benefit himself alone. They say they work these long hours with no overtime compensation. In fact, they name the website 996.ICU because working these long hours will get you in the ICU. They use horror stories of computer repair techs and programmers literally dropping dead because of long hours. Ma calls such stories ‘nonsense’. However, that’s about the only response from Alibaba about this controversy.
Well, here is Ma’s inspiration story. In the late ’90s, he was a teacher in China earning $12 a month. Remember, this is Communist China, here. He came to the USA, only to be kidnapped at gunpoint. He promised the gunman to be business partners if he let him go. Then, he learned about the Internet and e-commerce. Several years later, Alibaba is born, and is today worth over $400 billion. Ma’s personal worth is $36 billion. We don’t know what the Alibaba employee makes, or if there is overtime comp. But looking at Alibaba’s wealth, maybe 996.ICU has a point. Maybe all this long work isn’t for their benefit at all, but simply to serve one man and one man only. And that’s not right. The debate rages on. Alibaba’s work culture: Inspiring or detrimental?