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‘Frequent source of embarrassment’: SpaceX employees draft open letter to company executives on Elon Musk’s ‘behavior’

An open letter to SpaceX criticizing CEO Elon Musk’s recent actions has triggered an internal chat system conversation among the company’s workers. Employees are urged to openly or anonymously sign on to the letter’s ideas, with a signed version of the letter being given to SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell’s desk. Musk’s conduct and the recent sexual harassment claims against him have been badly hurting SpaceX’s brand, according to a letter seen by The Verge.

A statement in the paper states that the letter was written in collaboration by individuals “across the spectrum of gender, race, seniority, and technical responsibilities”. Employees who uploaded the message to SpaceX’s internal chat system haven’t replied to demands for comment, so it’s unclear who authored it. “Elon’s public conduct has been a regular cause of distraction and humiliation for us, especially in recent weeks,” the letter adds.

“As our CEO and most visible speaker, Elon is widely seen as SpaceX’s face – every Tweet he sends is effectively a public statement from the firm.” It is vital that our employees and prospective talent pool understand that his message does not represent our work, purpose, or values.” Musk has been busy lately, and his Twitter presence can be especially obnoxious. In April, he tagged a photo of Bill Gates with an emoji of a pregnant guy, “in case u need to drop a boner quickly.”

“Can’t get it up (to orbit) hahaha,” he replied to a tweet about Jeff Bezos’ aerospace business Blue Origin last year. Musk is also aiming to acquire Twitter. The letter, which was shared on Wednesday on an internal SpaceX Microsoft Teams channel with over 2,600 workers, claims that the firm is not following its well-publicized “No Asshole” policy and its zero-tolerance sexual harassment policy.

The memo goes on to recommend three distinct “action items” to handle the situation: SpaceX should “publicly address and denounce Elon’s detrimental Twitter conduct,” the business should “hold all leadership equally responsible” for poor behavior, and SpaceX should “clearly explain what precisely is meant by SpaceX’s ‘no-asshole’ and ‘zero-tolerance rules and apply them consistently.” “Every Tweet Elon writes is a de facto business public statement.”

Employees were invited to sign the letter by completing a survey or scanning a QR code, but the number of signatures was not immediately accessible. According to images of the conversation given by two insiders who talked with The Verge and wanted to remain anonymous, the letter sparked over a hundred replies in the Teams channel, with many workers agreeing with the spirit of the communication. Musk’s actions was also said to embarrass several commentators. Others want the corporation to handle top leadership conduct and sexual harassment charges more effectively.

The letter comes almost a month after an Insider article claimed that SpaceX paid a former flight attendant a $250,000 settlement after she accused Musk of exposing himself to her and proposing to her during a massage, an accusation that included Musk wanting to purchase her a horse. Musk refuted the claims, telling Insider that “there’s a lot more to this tale.”

According to what he shared with the newspaper, “If I were inclined to participate in sexual harassment, it is improbable that this would be the first time in my whole 30-year career that it comes to light.” Musk laughed about the news on Twitter, saying, “Hi Chad, long time no see!” You can get a horse if you touch my wiener.”

Following the publication of the report, Shotwell addressed an email to all SpaceX workers supporting Musk. “I think the claims are untrue,” Shotwell wrote, “not because I work for Elon, but because I have worked closely with him for 20 years and have never seen or heard anything matching these allegations.” “Anyone who knows Elon as well as I do understands that he would never engage in or condone this alleged improper behavior.”

There have been previous reports of sexual harassment at SpaceX. In the month of December, a woman who had previously worked at SpaceX published an article on the website Lioness in which she detailed her experiences with what she termed “pervasive sexual harassment” at the company. She also chastised SpaceX’s HR department for their handling of her concerns.

At the time, The Verge talked with four more former SpaceX workers, all of whom said that the company’s HR staff handled harassment allegations poorly. Shotwell wrote the firm before the article broke, stating that the “No Asshole” policy was still in effect. Shotwell remarked in December, “We also realize we can always do better.” “To ensure the process is successful, HR has been gathering input from groups throughout the firm.” An internal audit will be conducted by HR, followed by a third-party audit.”

Source: TheVerge

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Written by Alex Bruno

Freelance space writer Alex Bruno specializes in covering China's quickly expanding space industry. In 2021, he started writing for SpaceXMania. He also contributes to publications including SpaceNews, IEEE Spectrum, National Geographic, Sky & Telescope, and New Scientist. When Alex was a small child, he first experienced the space bug after seeing Voyager photographs of alien planets in our solar system. When not in space, Alex likes to go trail jogging in the Finnish countryside.

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