Jeff Bezos’ aerospace company, Blue Origin, has been accused of maintaining a toxic, unsafe, and sexist workplace environment. The allegations were revealed in a September 2021 essay written by the company’s former head of employee communications, Alexandra Abrams, as well as twenty other current and former anonymous Blue Origin employees.
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Employee-penned essay describes dehumanizing, sexist, and toxic Blue Origin workplace culture
An essay published by Lioness and written by Alexandra Abrams and other current and former Blue Origin employees details frustration and anger over a “particular brand” of sexism at the company. The authors describe a pervasive culture of misogyny, in which it’s common for the team of “mostly male and overwhelmingly white” senior leaders to act inappropriately and in a demeaning manner towards their female colleagues. A former female program leader even said that working at Blue Origin was the “worst experience of her life.”
The essay states that one former executive was apparently so well-known for inappropriate behavior—which included everything from calling colleagues “baby doll,” to inquiring about their dating lives—that employees would warn new female hires to stay away from him. Other executives and leaders are painted as “unapproachable and showing clear bias against women.”
CNN Business corroborated the claims of sexism brought forth in the letter with additional examples of sexism shared by Blue Origin employees, including instances in which male employees commented on women’s bodies or were given credit for ideas initially raised by a woman.
Blue Origin investigated by Federal Aviation Administration following suppressed employee safety concerns
In addition to describing claims of sexism and gender-based workplace harassment, the Lioness essay chronicles how safety concerns are repeatedly ignored by senior Blue Origin leaders. Employees also claim that any form of professional dissent is “actively stifled.”
For example, Employees who raised concerns about New Shepard—a launch vehicle designed for space tourism—were purportedly demeaned and “shut down” for stating their worries about staff availability, engineering practices, and launch speed. The employees were concerned that their safety was being compromised for the sake of remaining on schedule, noting that this pattern of prioritizing execution speed and cost-reduction above all else has been going on for years; in 2018, for instance, one team lead noticed over 1,000 problem reports related to Blue Origin’s rocket engines that had never been addressed.
The Federal Aviation Administration has since launched an investigation into claims of safety issues at Blue Origin, reports CNN. Following the Lioness publication and ensuing FAA investigation, Abrams told CBS News: “You cannot create a culture of safety and a culture of fear at the same time,” adding that she is “not afraid enough to let [Blue Origin] silence” her any longer.
You shouldn’t have to put up with sexism, silencing, or gender-based workplace harassment. Contact our employment attorneys today to discuss your rights and options.
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