Yet another Jeff Bezos-created business is under fire for workplace conditions.
The Washington Post reports that Alexandra Abrams, the former head of employee communications at Bezos' Blue Origin spaceflight company, wrote an essay this week saying that its "culture sits on a foundation that ignores the plight of our planet, turns a blind eye to sexism, is not sufficiently attuned to safety concerns, and silences those who seek to correct wrongs."
Some of the concerns seem to date back to 2019, when a senior executive at Blue Origin was terminated "after an outside law firm was brought in by the company to investigate employees’ allegations of his inappropriate behavior in the workplace, according to company officials and multiple people familiar with the matter."
According to the story, "Abrams writes that she represents a group of 21 former and current staffers, employed throughout the company, who participated in drafting the post on the condition of anonymity. In an interview with the Washington Post, one of the former staffers who participated in the blog post confirmed the allegations. The Post spoke with two other former employees, who were not part of the group that wrote the blog post, who said that Blue Origin’s leadership has created a toxic work environment and that they were grateful the blog was made public. They, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal."
In a statement, Blue Origin said that the company “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.”
The Washington Post piece can be read here.
- KC's View:
Bezos may have a kind of blind spot, despite all his vision. While he indisputably is able to conceive of enterprises that have the potential to change the world, he seems not to be fully cognizant off the more granular issues of basic human dignity, or treating people as more than just chess pieces to be moved around according to strategic and tactical imperatives.
I wonder if a company can be truly great without a sensibility that integrates these kinds of sensitivities.