- Jeff Bezos’ space company Blue Origin has been described as a “toxic” workplace, according to an essay by 21 current and former employees.
- The essay claims that the company forces workers to sign strict non-disclosure agreements, suppresses internal feedback, disregards safety concerns, and creates a sexist environment for women.
- Blue Origin responded that it has “no tolerance for discrimination or harassment of any kind” and “immediately” investigates claims of misconduct.
Twenty-one current and former employees of Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin claim the space company is a “toxic” workplace, according to an essay posted Thursday.
Led by Alexandra Abrams, former Blue Origin head of employee communications, The essay claims that The company forces workers to sign strict non-disclosure agreements, suppresses internal feedback, disregards safety concerns, and creates a sexier environment for women. It also cited the example of alleged sexual harassment.
“I’ve gotten away with it enough that I’m not so afraid that they shut me up now,” Abrams said in a CBS interview that aired Thursday.
The essay was published Thursday on the Lioness website. It was signed by Abrams and said to be endorsed by 20 other current and former employees whose names were not listed.
Responding to CNBC, Blue Origin vice president of communications Linda Mills said Abrams was “sacked for cause” in 2019 “after repeated warnings for issues involving federal export control rules.”
“Blue Origin has no tolerance for discrimination or harassment of any kind,” Mills said in his statement. “We provide multiple avenues for employees, including a 24/7 anonymous hotline, and will investigate any new claims of misconduct immediately.”
Abrams admitted in a CBS interview that he was fired by Blue Origin. She told “CBS Mornings” that she was “shocked” when she was fired, but her manager had said that “Bob and I can’t trust you anymore,” referring to CEO Bob Smith. According to her LinkedIn account, she now works in employee communications for a large software company.
The essay stated that “workforce gender differences are common in the space industry” but claimed that “at Blue Origin they also manifest in a particular brand of sexism.”
It gave two examples from senior leadership. It alleged that “a senior executive in CEO Bob Smith’s loyal inner circle” had been repeatedly informed of the sexual harassment claims to the company’s human resources team. Despite the claims, the essay said, Smith made the executive a member of Blue Origin’s hiring committee when the company was filling a senior human resources role.
In another example, a former executive was allegedly abusive towards women, “calling them ‘baby girl,’ ‘baby doll,’ or ‘sweetheart,’ and inquiring about their dating lives.” The essay claimed that Blue Origin would warn new female employees to stay away from the executive, who reportedly had a “close personal relationship with Bezos.”
The essay alleges, “It took him physically to grope a subordinate woman, who was eventually let go.”
Blue Origin also intensified the use of stricter nondisclosure agreements, the essay said, prompting all employees to sign new contracts with a nondisclosure clause in 2019. The company’s work culture has taken a toll on the “mental health” of “many” people. Current and former employees claimed. The letter cited a senior program leader in the aerospace and defense industry for decades, who claimed that “working at Blue Origin was the worst experience of his life.”
Safety concerns are another important part of the essay, alleging that “some of the engineers who ensure the safety of rockets” were either fired or paid off after internal criticism.
The essay said that last year, Blue Origin leadership showed “growing impatience” with the low flight rates of its suborbital New Shepard rocket, adding that the company’s team needed “a few flights per year … up to 40 more.” You need to jump.”
The essay said, “When Jeff Bezos flew to space this July, we didn’t share his enthusiasm. Instead, many of us watched with a sense of unease. Some of us saw it as Couldn’t bear to watch.” “Competing with other billionaires—and making ‘progress for Jeff’—seemed to take priority over safety concerns that would have slowed down the schedule.”
The essay argues that environmental concerns were considered later in the company, with the impact on local ecology and the necessary permits being considered after the machinery was “shown” at Blue Origin’s factory in Kent, Washington.
Additionally, Blue Origin’s headquarters in Kent — which opened last year — is not a LEED-certified building, according to the essay, claiming that “it was built on wetlands that were too dry for construction.”
Blue Origin Mills’ statement to CNBC did not elicit a response on these other issues.