Letter writers slam sexist, toxic environment at Blue Origin

Blue Origin

A brand-new open letter from 21 current and former employees of Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin company is red hot, and making waves in tech media today.


The Guardian is just one venue that has covered this group of insiders speaking out in the letter released Thursday that describes a pretty toxic workplace culture in a company with about 3600 employees.


“What are the blind spots of an organization whose stated mission is to enable humanity’s better future, yet is rife with sexism?” the group writes. “Blue Origin’s flaws extend further, unfortunately. The company proclaims it will build a better world because we’re well on our way to ruining this one, yet none of us has seen Blue Origin establish any concrete plans to become carbon neutral or significantly reduce its large environmental footprint.”


Letter writers describe employees undergoing experiences they see as “dehumanizing” and said conflict is “actively stifled.”


“Critics inside the company have been forced out for speaking up and offered payment in exchange for signing even more restrictive nondisclosure agreements—including some of the engineers who ensure the very safety of the rockets,” they allege.


In the course of the letter, anecdotal evidence is provided – senior leadership creating lists of problematic employees, and a senior staffer fired for groping rank-and-file workers.


There’s also inequity in termination, exemplified thusly:


“When one man was let go for poor performance, he was allowed to leave with dignity, even a going-away party. Yet when a woman leader who had significantly improved her department’s performance was let go, she was ordered to leave immediately, with security hovering until she exited the building five minutes later.”


All of this comes as Blue Origin competes with SpaceX to become a front-running pioneer in U.S. space travel.


But now these 21 individuals are asking the question that, for some, is the elephant in the room – how does our space frontier and the resources that we put toward it represent equality in our society? The letter ends, bluntly: “Should we as a society allow ego-driven individuals with endless caches of money and very little accountability to be the ones to shape that future?”