Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin accused of 'toxic' work culture involving sexual harassment

WION Web Team
New DelhiUpdated: Oct 01, 2021, 04:08 PM IST

Jeff Bezos Photograph:(AFP)

Story highlights

The allegations against Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin have been made by a group of current and former employees of the company. Blue Origins has strongly denied the allegations

Tech billionaire Jeff Bezos' space company Blue Origin on Thursday faced accusations of having 'toxic' work culture. The claim was made by a group of current and former Blue Origin employees. The allegations also say that sexual harassment was rampant in the company and there was a pattern of decision making that prioritized speedy rocket development over safety. 

Blue Origin has firmly rejected the allegations. The allegations were outlined in a lengthy blogpost which was signed by Alexandra Abrams, the company's former head of employee communications

The post also said that it represented views of 20 other workers and ex-workers. The blogpost said that these individuals wanted to remain anonymous.

"Workforce gender gaps are common in the space industry, but at Blue Origin they also manifest in a particular brand of sexism," it said.

One senior executive was said to have reported for sexual harassment multiple times, but remained within the "loyal inner circle" of CEO Bob Smith.

Another former executive frequently referred to women co-workers as "'baby girl,' 'baby doll,' or 'sweetheart'" and inquired about their dating lives, the post added.

"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," the authors said.

They also said a former NASA astronaut and Blue Origin senior leader once instructed a group of women: "You should ask my opinion because I am a man."

Abrams and her co-authors further claimed that the company romanticized burnout, suppressed dissent, and was obsessed with competing with rivals SpaceX and Virgin Galactic in the race to launch their billionaire founders, thus compromising 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,'" they said.

A Blue Origin spokesperson denied the allegations, saying Abrams was dismissed two years ago after warnings over issues involving US export control regulations.

"Blue Origin has no tolerance for discrimination or harassment of any kind," the spokesperson added.

(With inputs from agencies)