Business and Finance

Over 20 current and former Blue Origin employees say Jeff Bezos’s company is ‘rife with sexism’ and ‘stuck in a toxic past’

Twenty-one former and current Blue Origin employees are mentioned to have penned that passage in an essay published on the storytelling platform Lioness on Thursday charging Jeff Bezos’s space-flight company with enabling a toxic work tradition.

Alexandra Abrams, the former head of Blue Origin worker communications, and 20 different Blue Origin employees and former employees on the New Shepard, New Glenn, Blue Engines, Advanced Development Programs, Test & Flight Operations, and human-resources groups had been mentioned to have written the essay. Abrams is the one named writer.

The essay — titled “Bezos Wants to Create a Better Future in Space. His Company Blue Origin is Stuck in a Toxic Past.” — particulars how the company has allegedly mistreated feminine employees, silenced individuals who voice security considerations and not dedicated itself to its publicly acknowledged mission of benefiting the planet.

In response to the essay, Blue Origin instructed MarketWatch that Abrams was “dismissed for cause two years ago after repeated warnings for issues involving federal export control regulations.”

Abrams told CBS News that she by no means obtained any warning concerning problems with that nature.

“Blue Origin has no tolerance for discrimination or harassment of any kind. We provide numerous avenues for employees, including a 24/7 anonymous hotline, and will promptly investigate any new claims of misconduct. We stand by our safety record and believe that New Shepard is the safest space vehicle ever designed or built,” a spokesperson instructed MarketWatch by way of electronic mail.

Several executives, the worker group claims, had been recognized harassers. The essay alleges that one former govt persistently known as girls demeaning names, together with “baby girl,” “baby doll” or “sweetheart,” and inquired about their relationship lives. “It appeared to many of us that he was protected by his close personal relationship with Bezos — it took him physically groping a female subordinate for him to finally be let go,” reads a passage in the essay.

Read extra: Sexual harassment at work can cost survivors up to $1.3 million over a lifetime

Women who raised considerations associated to the Blue Origin launch car New Shephard had been persistently shut down, the essay alleges.

“What are the blind spots of an organization whose stated mission is to enable humanity’s better future, yet is rife with sexism? Blue Origin’s flaws extend further, unfortunately,” the essay claims.

Also: As Andrew Cuomo exits, a step-by-step guide to getting help if you’re sexually harassed at work

The essay sates that, even because the company’s acknowledged mission is to “benefit Earth,” Blue Origin has by no means made environmental considerations a precedence.

“For years employees have raised environmental concerns at company town halls, but these have been largely left unaddressed,” the group writes in the essay. “We did not see sustainability, climate change or climate justice influencing Blue Origin’s decision-making process or company culture.”

A company tradition emphasizing getting extra out of its employees, the place “burnout was part of [the] labor strategy,” led to mental-health points for a lot of employees, in keeping with the essay.

“Former and current employees have had experiences they could only describe as dehumanizing, and are terrified of the potential consequences for speaking out against the wealthiest man on the planet,” the essay reads. “Others have experienced periods of suicidal thoughts after having their passion for space manipulated in such a toxic environment.”

The essay claims that security took a again seat to retaining operations on schedule — and to beating Bezos’s fellow billionaires in the race to house.

Related: Billionaire space race: As Jeff Bezos blasts off, here’s how his flight compares to Richard Branson’s trip

“At Blue Origin, a common question during high-level meetings was, ‘When will Elon [Musk] or [Richard] Branson fly?’ Competing with other billionaires — and ‘making progress for Jeff’ — seemed to take precedence over safety concerns that would have slowed down the schedule,” the essay reads. “Employees are often told to ‘be careful with Jeff’s money,’ to ‘not ask for more,’ and to ‘be grateful.’ “

Recent reporting by the Verge reveals that Blue Origin “gambled” in its lunar lander proposal final yr. The company hoped NASA would negotiate the $5.9 billion price ticket for its Blue Moon lander, however the house company went with Musk’s SpaceX as an alternative. Blue Origin subsequently sued NASA after it awarded a $2.89 billion contract to SpaceX to land the following Americans on the moon.

Also: Elon Musk says Jeff Bezos ‘retired in order to pursue a full-time job filing lawsuits against SpaceX’ after Amazon protests SpaceX satellite expansion

What’s extra, the essay alleges, skilled dissent at Blue Origin is actively stifled, resulting in ignored security considerations. The essay’s authors contend that the “race to launch at such a breakneck speed was seriously compromising flight safety.”

“In the opinion of an engineer who has signed on to this essay, ‘Blue Origin has been lucky that nothing has happened so far.’ Many of this essay’s authors say they would not fly on a Blue Origin vehicle. And no wonder — we have all seen how often teams are stretched beyond reasonable limits,” they write.

The authors fear that stretching employees skinny, ignoring security considerations in order to maintain to a schedule and stifling dissent may result in historical past repeating itself, noting that an investigation of the deadly 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger explosion pointed to related causes for the catastrophe.

The essay concludes by calling for Bezos and different leaders inside the company to be held accountable and to be taught “how to run a respectful, responsible company before they can be permitted to arbitrarily use their wealth and resulting power to create a blueprint for humanity’s future.”

“But beyond that,” it continues, (*20*)

Bezos’s different company, Amazon
has additionally confronted accusations of fostering poor working situations and a toxic work setting. Some warehouse employees reportedly urinated in bottles as they didn’t have time to make use of the restroom and have fainted in the past apparently due to warehouse temperatures.

Amazon disputed these allegations.

Related: Amazon warehouse workers, fearful of wasting time, relieved themselves in bottles: undercover investigator

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