Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin has fostered a “toxic” and sexist work environment that’s even pushed some employees into having suicidal thoughts, a group of 21 former and current employees alleged in an open letter Thursday.
Alexandra Abrams, who served as Blue Origin’s head of employee communications until 2019, signed her name to the letter. The remaining 20 authors are anonymous.
Several senior leaders at Blue Origin have been “consistently inappropriate with women,” the letter alleges, adding that employees reported one senior executive in CEO Bob Smith’s loyal inner circle to human resources multiple times for sexual harassment.
“Even so, Smith personally made him a member of the hiring committee for filling a senior HR role in 2019,” the letter says, without naming the senior executive.
“Another former executive frequently treated women in a condescending and demeaning manner, calling them ‘baby girl,’ ‘baby doll,’ or ‘sweetheart’ and inquiring about their dating lives,” the letter goes on. “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.”
Many company leaders, the letter says, showed a “clear bias against women.”
A Blue Origin spokesperson said the company does not tolerate “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.”
The spokesperson added that “Abrams was dismissed for cause two years ago after repeated warnings for issues involving federal export control regulations.”
Abrams did not return The Post’s request for comment.
On top of the sexist work environment, Blue Origin has pushed employees “to their limits,” the letter says, citing internal memos that allegedly said the company needs to “get more out of our employees” and that workers should consider it a “privilege to be a part of history.”
“Former and current employees have had experiences they could only describe as dehumanizing, and are terrified of the potential consequences for speaking out against the wealthiest man on the planet,” the letter says.
“Others have experienced periods of suicidal thoughts after having their passion for space manipulated in such a toxic environment. One senior program leader with decades in the aerospace and defense industry said working at Blue Origin was the worst experience of her life.”
The letter also alleges that senior leadership at Blue Origin has fostered a culture of “suppression of dissent” that has put safety at risk.
“Blue Origin has been lucky that nothing has happened so far,” one anonymous engineer who signed on to the letter is quoted as saying. The letter adds that “teams are stretched beyond reasonable limits.”
And the topic of when SpaceX CEO Elon Musk or Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson would fly to space was a frequent topic at company meetings, the letter says.
“At Blue Origin, a common question during high-level meetings was, ‘When will Elon or Branson fly?’ Competing with other billionaires — and ‘making progress for Jeff’ — seemed to take precedence over safety concerns that would have slowed down the schedule,” the group wrote.
The company was also stingy when it came to investing in its workforce, the letter says, even though Bezos is currently the second-wealthiest person in the world.
“Employees are often told to ‘be careful with Jeff’s money,’ to ‘not ask for more,’ and to ‘be grateful,’” according to the letter.
The letter concludes that there’s a lack of rules and regulations in the commercial space industry and calls for “accountable oversight.”
“But beyond that, all of us should collectively, urgently, be raising this question: 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?” the letter says.