Some Blue Origin employees say Jeff Bezos’ space company has an ‘authoritarian bro culture’ that demoralized workers, a new report says

jeff bezos blue origin

  • A new report from The Washington Post details a dysfunctional “bro culture” at Blue Origin.
  • Workers told The Post that they felt demoralized by a lack of response to complaints of a “toxic” workplace.
  • Last month, an open letter accused Blue Origin of ignoring employee concerns about safety and sexism.

Blue Origin employees say Jeff Bezos’ space company has fostered a “dysfunctional” and “demoralizing” work culture that caused many to lose faith in the company, according to a recent report from The Washington Post.



The publication said it interviewed 20 current and former employees at Blue Origin, as well as industry officials that work closely with the space venture. The workers, who spoke anonymously, said that Blue Origin executives, including Bezos and CEO Bob Smith, have been repeatedly warned by employees that the company’s workplace culture has become “toxic.”

One former employee said the work culture led to widespread “loss of trust in Blue [Origin] leadership,” according to a 2016 memo reviewed by The Post. Several workers said executives failed to address the issues, choosing to “silence” employees instead.

A Blue Origin spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment from Insider, but told The Post the company takes harassment claims very seriously. The Post’s report comes after an open letter from individuals identifying themselves as “21 current and former Blue Origin employees” was released alleging that the space venture had ignored numerous safety concerns and created a sexist work culture. At the time, a Blue Origin spokesperson told Insider that the company does not tolerate harassment and was actively investigating the claims.

One former employee told The Post, which is owned by Bezos, that Blue Origin’s management fostered an “authoritarian bro culture.” Several employees detailed moments were the venture’s workplace culture led to condescension, humiliation, and harassment toward female workers.

In the initial open letter, the workers identified two executives they alleged who contributed to the sexist culture and had been repeatedly reported for sexual harassment — allegations the company had mostly ignored, according to the report. Earlier this month, The Post identified one of the executives as Walt McCleery, the company’s vice president of recruiting. The executive was reportedly fired in 2019 following an investigation into the sexual harassment claims. McCleery did not respond to a request for comment, but denied the allegations to the Post.

In the latest report, employees identified two more executives they alleged contributed to sexism at Blue Origin. Multiple employees told The Post that another executive received guidance from human resources after he repeatedly referred to female workers as “mean girls,” but that he eventually stopped after counseling.

Another former engineer said that in 2016 her manager made derogatory comments when she was kneeling at a co-worker’s desk, reportedly telling her that she didn’t have to “get on your knees yet.”

While some female workers said they were warned to stay away from the company because of the workplace culture, another employee said Blue Origin was very responsive when she reported another worker for “inappropriate behavior” this year and the company investigated immediately. The worker’s employment was terminated as a result, the employee told the publication.

Workers also felt Blue Origin’s CEO contributed to dissatisfaction with the company through fostering a “bureaucracy that hampered innovation,” as well as a micromanaging leadership style, according to The Post. Earlier in October, CNBC reported that Blue Origin’s human resource department brought in an outside management consultant to work on improving Smith and other executives’ leadership style — a move that Smith reportedly resented. Smith did not respond to a request for comment. Though, the CEO sent a company-wide email after the open letter was released saying the criticisms require “reflection and humility.”



The news comes just as Blue Origin is only a few days away from its second launch. The company is slated to send four private citizens, including Hollywood actor William Shatner into space on Wednesday.

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