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SpaceX’s firings attract further ESG scrutiny, disrupting its ongoing quest to Mars, says GlobalData

Following the news that Elon Musk’s SpaceX has fired at least five employees for circulating an open letter criticizing Musk’s social media use and the company’s work culture;

Francesca Gregory, Associate Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers her view: “Musk has presented his mission for humans to become a spacefaring civilization as the future, citing this as a type of planetary insurance policy should environmental change go from bad to worse. However, news that the company fired employees for criticizing Musk and SpaceX’s work culture will raise serious questions about the company’s ability to reconcile all aspects of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) with its ongoing quest for Mars.

“Earlier this month, the FAA ruled that SpaceX must undertake 75 mitigating actions spanning all three ESG pillars to get its Starship off the ground. However, this latest news, combined with Musk dubbing ESG a ‘scam’ in the past, casts doubt on whether the company’s governance will prove a sticking point. Neglecting ESG issues at home will undoubtedly bring SpaceX’s aspirations crashing down to Earth."

Amrit Dhami, Associate Analyst at GlobalData, offers her view: “The novelty of Elon Musk’s cult of personality seems to be wearing off. Musk has pitched himself as a champion of free speech, but SpaceX’s actions are rapidly dismantling any credibility around that claim. If the company’s disregard for the social component of ESG continues, the negative publicity would permanently damage its brand in an industry already struggling to reconcile growth with rising ESG concerns.

“Tech titan Amazon also came under pressure from its employees this year and was forced to recognize the newly-formed Amazon Labor Union. The union embodies the no-nonsense spirit among much of the wider US workforce right now, when living costs are soaring and pandemic-led layoffs and wage cuts are still being felt.

“The SpaceX firing could lead to further unrest among its employees – a dangerous prospect given the importance of retaining tech-savvy experts and weathering the Great Resignation.”


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