Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith responded quickly to claims of hostile work environments. He sent an internal letter Thursday to employees encouraging them to contact him directly or through an anonymous hotline. Blue Origin, like many other companies, prefers to handle complaints internally than in the public.
CNBC received Smith's letter immediately after a joint essay by 21 Blue Origin employees expressing serious concerns about safety and harassment at the company.
Alexandra Abrams is the sole author of the essay. She was the former head of employee communications. In a new interview, she told TechCrunch that she made the decision to make her identity public because she felt a sense for others.
She said that I felt as though I had compromised Blue Origin's integrity. I tried my best but Bob's executive communicator was Bob and I helped him look great.
This essay details two cases of sexual harassment by senior executives. Abrams also stated that only five of the 21 contributors to the essay were men. Blue Origin's safety was also alleged to have been compromised by the demands of speed and execution. Blue Origin leadership insisted on a fast pace that was not supported with adequate staffing.
Abrams stated that SpaceX has always been better staffed than Blue Origin.
Blue Origin stated in a statement, that Abrams was fired for cause two years back after being warned repeatedly about issues with federal export control regulations. Abrams claimed she didn't receive any warnings from management on issues related to federal export controls regulations.
She claims that her termination was due to the fact that she initiated a project to create an internal employee app. Voyager went live two weeks later. It was discovered that a portion of the app's architecture was not secure. This is a serious concern in aerospace, since all communication tools must comply with International Traffic in Arms Regulations.
Abrams claims she escalated the matter immediately. Senior management carried out an investigation but found no export violations. However, Abrams claims that senior executives told her she couldn't be trusted and fired the former employee.
As a communications professional and part of the non technical staff, I wasn't responsible for certifying/approving compliance with any third-party software architecture. She also stated that the software in question is still being used by Blue Origin, Amazon and others.
Yesterday, the Federal Aviation Administration stated that it was reviewing the essay's information. Abrams stated that while the agency has not reached her, she would be very grateful if they did.
I feel that I am fulfilling my job as an employee communications specialist for the first time.
Below is Bob Smith's complete internal email to the Abrams team: