It has been claimed that Blue Origin, the space flight company owned by the Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, has a culture that is ‘rife with sexism’.
A letter by the current and former employees, published on the whistleblower forum Lioness, stated that “Numerous senior leaders have been known to be consistently inappropriate with women.”
Written by Alexandra Abrams, a former head of employee communications at Blue Origin, and 20 other current and former staff, the letter said: “Workforce gender gaps are common in the space industry, but at Blue Origin they also manifest in a particular brand of sexism. ”
The letter went on to add that the company’s culture “reflects the worst of the world we live in now” and must change. It added that the workforce was “mostly male” and “overwhelmingly white”.
According to the letter’s authors, one senior figure in the organisation was reported a number of times for sexual harassment while another executive had allegedly groped a female colleague leading to new female recruits being warned by other women to stay away from him.
The group of current and ex-employees also made allegations about weak safety standards at the firm. It said: “What are the blind spots of an organisation whose stated mission is to enable humanity’s better future, yet is rife with sexism? Blue Origin’s flaws extend further, unfortunately.”
Diversity and inclusion
It revealed that safety concerns had been raised over Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket by women but were ignored.
Speed was prioritised above safety, the letter’s authors maintained: “Some of us felt that with the resources and staff available, leadership’s race to launch at such a breakneck speed was seriously compromising flight safety.”
A Blue Origin spokesperson said: “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.”
They added: “We stand by our safety record and believe that New Shepard is the safest space vehicle ever designed or built.”
The Federal Aviation Administration, the US regulator, said on Thursday it “takes every safety allegation seriously, and the agency is reviewing the information”.