Basecamp announced it would ban “societal and political discussions” at work. Although I’m sure some folks were ecstatic to hear that mentions of BLM or social awareness talks are banned from the work place and work space, the majority of folks were not happy to hear this news. I’ve respected the work that Jason Fried and David Hansson has done in the past in relation to remote work and bootstrapping companies, but the more important and harder conversation to have is about the company itself.
Recently, the company released a statement that felt more like an insult. You can read the statement here:
“No more societal and political discussions at Basecamp. Today’s social and political waters are especially choppy. Sensitivities are at 11, and every discussion remotely related to politics, advocacy, or society at large quickly spins away from pleasant. You shouldn’t have to wonder if staying out of it means you’re complicit, or wading into it means you’re a target. These are difficult enough waters to navigate in life, but significantly more so at work. It’s become too much. It’s a major distraction. It saps our energy, and redirects our dialog towards dark places. It’s not healthy, it hasn’t served us well. And we’re done with it at Basecamp.”
Paraphrasing – We have reached a decision that we will not have political or societal talk in the work place or space because it’s a distraction, and now people feel complicate by not even participating in the conversation. We don’t want people to deal with this “negative energy”.
So the solution would be censor, ban and restrict conversations around politics or societal issues.
For one of the most “progressive” companies to do this, it’s a sad reminder that they think representation is a quick solution when the head of the company lacks diversity. By removing or disbanding the DEI (Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion) community at Basecamp that was formed in February and ban all conversation about racism, they are simply putting a Band-Aid over a deeper and much more troubling issue.
If you follow the Basecamp’s podcast “The Rework Podcast” hosted by an Asian American woman named Wailin Wong, they’ve released an episode that’s barely a minute long that mentions that they are pausing the podcast. The entire podcast is about how to work, that’s what Basecamp’s marketing is all about – we can show companies how to work, and it was so transparent when the hosts couldn’t finish there tagline “How to work…” then corrected “A WAY to work and run your business”
Podcast Link: “Going Dark”
It’s obvious that employees at Basecamp are not happy about the decision made by the leadership of the company.
If you’re a head of a company, and you aren’t analyzing how you would act, and why, in the situation at Basecamp, you’re missing a golden opportunity. Every step offers a gold mine of reflection.
Also, I wonder when Basecamp customers will start to wonder if any of their other sensitive data is on an internal list made for laughs. Or if their Hey emails are being read… and on a list for laughs.
When a founder tries to defend their bigotry by talking about how many other employees are also carelessly mishandling customer data and admitting it’s been going on for years… it’s time to clean the house.