Employees of space company Blue Origin denounce “toxic” corporate culture undermining safety

“Blue Origin has no tolerance for discrimination or harassment,” responded the company, committing to “promptly investigate any new allegation of misconduct.”

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Employees of billionaire Jeff Bezos’ space company, Blue Origin, publicly denounced a work environment on Thursday, September 30 “toxic”. In a text published online (link in English), the former head of internal communications, Alexandra Abrams, along with 20 other current and former employees who wish to remain anonymous, describe an atmosphere of sexism and practices dangerous to flight safety, they say, calling for more control of from a third party authority. The signatories of the forum thus list many inappropriate behaviors towards women – including one person having been repeatedly reported for sexual harassment to human resources, having despite everything been promoted within the recruitment team. They also regret that Blue Origin (3,600 employees) disregards environmental issues in its development.

The culture of Blue Origin “ignores the state of our planet, looks away from sexism, does not listen enough to security challenges, and silences those who seek to correct these problems”, they write. “We shouldn’t wait for the loss of human life to look at what is going on behind the doors of private space companies.”, they add. “The time has come – now that the public is on board – to allow independent oversight.”

After transporting its first four passengers, including Jeff Bezos, to space in July, a second manned flight is scheduled by Blue Origin on October 12. Many signatory employees do not “would not board a Blue Origin ship”, says this forum, denouncing a lack of personnel, resources and extreme pressure to reduce costs and delays. “The competition with other billionaires (…) took over the security concerns which would have slowed down the schedule”, denounce the former employees, citing in particular the Briton Richard Branson, founder of the competing company Virgin Galactic. Blue Origin managers are encouraged to “push employees to their limits”, reason why some of them had “suicidal thoughts”, supports the text.

“Blue Origin has no tolerance for discrimination or harassment”, reacted the company, by committing to “promptly investigate any new allegations of misconduct”.

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