SpaceX develops some of the word’s most technologically advanced rockets and spacecraft. The company’s Falcon 9 rocket is currently the only orbital-class rocket that can propel payload to space and return to perform a controlled vertical landing on autonomous drone ships at sea. SpaceX launched the first pair of NASA Astronauts to the International Space Station aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft on May 30. The successful mission reestablished the United States as a space power with human spaceflight capabilities. NASA had not launched astronauts from American soil since 2011. SpaceX does not want to settle with ferrying astronauts to orbit, the company will take astronauts back to the moon, and aims to establish a permanent, self-sustaining human settlement on Mars.
According to CNBC, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell sent employees an email today, June 19th, she wrote – “We are the world’s leader in Spaceflight. We should absolutely be the world’s leader in creating and maintaining a workplace free from bias and injustice where everyone can do their best work so that we can accelerate our goal of making humanity multi-planetary.”
Today is a celebration in Texas called ‘Juneteenth’, it is a day that celebrates the official end of African-American slavery in the United States, which happened in 1865 when Texas received the news that the Civil War was over and everyone is finally free. The Juneteenth celebration is not an official holiday in the United States but the African-American community celebrates Juneteenth proudly nationwide. In solidarity, Shotwell told SpaceX employees – “Next year, Juneteenth will be an official company holiday.” Declaring Juneteenth as an official company holiday means, employees have the option to take the day off and still get paid for the day.
In the email obtained by CNBC reporters, Shotwell reinforces SpaceX’s inclusive environment. The full email reads:
Today is Juneteenth. I encourage each employee to learn more about this day and to reflect on how to effect positive change here at SpaceX and in your community. Next year, Juneteenth will be an official company holiday. If you’d like to observe Juneteenth for the remainder of today, you may use paid time off (PTO) or unpaid time off. All requested time will be approved gladly. Please work with your manager if you would like to observe today.
As a follow-up to my communication two weeks ago, I met with some of our Black employees to hear directly from them about their experiences at work. I also heard in the follow [sic] discussions that the injustices that our Black employees are experiencing extend to other minority employees. Micro-aggressions all the way to explicit race-based name calling and other intolerable aggressive behaviors occur here and this is completely not OK. SpaceX does not tolerate discrimination or racism of any kind (and in these cases we will strictly uphold our no A-hole policy). If you are aware of or have experienced these acts, please-please-please let HR, your manager or met know immediately (we cannot fix problems that we do not know about). SpaceX must be a place where every employee can do their best work -- and being Captain Obvious here: Employees cannot do their best work if they are being treated badly or unjustly.
We are kicking off two new employee networks -- BlackX and LatinX. Every employee network is open to all employees and can be very effective in generating positive change.
Last year we made bias training mandatory for all people leaders. We are now making bias training mandatory for all employees. The Diversity & Inclusion and Training team will work on a strategy to to scale in-person sessions across the company, at all sites in addition to the existing online training. Stay tuned for local communication on next steps. [Ed. link redacted]
We will begin to host fireside chats focused on diversity & inclusion in the next couple of weeks. We will leverage external experts and internal employees to participate in these conversations. You are encouraged to attend, whether in-person or virtually. [Ed. link redacted]
We are kicking off a minority mentorship program. We have seen success in our Women’s Network mentorship program and we are excited to expand that.
Our executive team will engage their employees on this topic and we want each manager to do the same. We all need to participate in this conversation.
These steps are just the start and you have my commitment that we will continue to work for, celebrate, enhance and protect our diverse employee base so that everyone can do excellent work free from bias and inappropriate behavior. We are the world’s leader in Spaceflight - We should absolutely be the world’s leader in creating and maintaining a workplace free from bias and injustice where everyone can do their best work so that we can accelerate our goal of making humanity multi-planetary. -- g”
Elon Musk, the founder/CEO at SpaceX and Tesla, also declared his support for the African-American community today – “Juneteenth is henceforth considered a US holiday at Tesla & SpaceX,” he wrote via Twitter.
Juneteenth is henceforth considered a US holiday at Tesla & SpaceX— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 19, 2020
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.