Alexandra Abrams, the former Head of Employee Communications at Blue Origin, says she is disappointed in CEO Jeff Bezos for allowing the company’s toxic culture to flourish.
In a Lioness open letter, Abrams and a handful of other current and former Blue Origin employees outlined instances of sexism and sexual harassment directed at the company’s female employees and a disturbing approach to spaceflight safety that ignored input from employees who were most familiar with the systems. The letter says unequivocally that speed and advancement were prioritized over safety.
In response, Blue Origin’s CEO, Bob Smith, emailed employees yesterday that said the company had “no tolerance for discrimination or harassment of any kind.” Linda Mills, the head of communications at Blue Origin, said in a statement that “safety is our highest priority, and we have multiple ways for employees to raise safety concerns.”
However, it is not the entire story. In an interview with CBS News, Abrams also sent a personal message to Blue Origin CEO Jeff Bezos.
“I think would say to Jeff that I really wished he was the person we all thought he was,” Abrams said, “and that Blue Origin was the company we all thought it was going to be.”
Along with Abrams’ allegations, there has been a heated debate over the nature of Abrams’ exit from Blue Origin. Abrams was fired after getting repeated warnings for “issues pertaining to federal export control regulations,” Blue Origin told CBS. However, according to Abrams, those warnings never occurred, and she was sacked for fighting with management.
Senior management ordered Abrams to establish new regulations that would make it practically impossible for Blue Origin employees to feel empowered and stand up for workplace harassment or discrimination. She alleged there was an already infinite supply in court.
“You cannot create a culture of safety and a culture of fear at the same time,” Abrams told CBS. “They are incompatible.”