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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

‘Rife with sexism’: staff of Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin describe ‘poisonous’ office tradition

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Twnety-one present and former staff of Jeff Bezos’ house firm Blue Origin printed a damning essay on Thursday saying the corporate “turns a blind eye to sexism, isn’t sufficiently attuned to security considerations, and silences those that search to appropriate wrongs.”

Co-authored by Blue Origin’s former head of worker communications Alexandra Abrams, the essay describes a number of accounts of sexist and dismissive conduct from a few of the firm’s “one-hundred p.c” male senior technical and program leaders and says “skilled dissent at Blue Origin is actively stifled.”

The workers accuse the corporate’s CEO Bob Smith of disregarding dissent by discouraging employees from elevating questions throughout inner city halls, asking a colleague to trace “troublemakers or agitators,” and forcing out staff for talking out about questions of safety associated to Blue Origin’s New Shepard tourism rocket. “Smith’s internal circle of loyalists makes unilateral selections, usually with out the buy-in of engineers, different specialists, or senior leaders throughout varied departments,” the staff say.

In an interview with CBS this morning, Abrams, talking out for the primary time, mentioned she was fired by Blue Origin in 2019, together with her supervisor saying “Bob and I can’t belief you anymore,” referring to the CEO. “You can’t create a tradition of security and a tradition of concern on the identical time,” Abrams mentioned within the interview. “I’ve gotten far sufficient away from it that I’m not afraid sufficient to allow them to silence me anymore.”

In a press release to The Verge, a Blue Origin spokesperson mentioned, “Blue Origin has no tolerance for discrimination or harassment of any variety. We offer quite a few avenues for workers, together with a 24/7 nameless hotline, and can promptly examine any new claims of misconduct.”

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The spokesperson additionally mentioned Abrams was fired “after repeated warnings for points involving federal export management laws,” a declare Abrams denied to CBS Information.

The essay, printed on Lioness, a platform for whistleblowers, indicated Blue Origin generally ignored questions of safety to favor velocity, amid heated competitors with different billionaire-backed firms like Elon Musk’s SpaceX or Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic. “Competing with different billionaires—and ‘making progress for Jeff’—appeared to take priority over security considerations that will have slowed down the schedule,” the staff mentioned.

Blue Origin has struggled with inner strife up to now.

In 2020, The Verge reported that Blue Origin employees were outraged by the pressure they faced from senior leadership to proceed in-person work and journey for a New Shepard check launch in the course of the starting of the COVID-19 pandemic, when a lot of the nation was locking all the way down to curb the virus’s unfold. Responding to worker considerations in a single assembly, Jeff Ashby, the corporate’s senior mission assurance director and a former NASA astronaut, mentioned: “I’d say that it is best to ask your self, as a person, are you performing as a toxin within the group, fanning discontent, or are you actually attempting to assist our senior leaders make higher selections?”

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