• February 26, 2024

Basecamp and the Political Bullies

Close by the editorial staff

The editorial office

May 3, 2021, 6:37 p.m. ET

Jason Fried, CEO of Basecamp


ANDY DAVIS / ProductionManager for the Wall Street Journal

At the time, political activism in business was controversial. But in these hyper-political times, refusing to make your company a workplace of the guards can make you a target.

This is exactly what happened to Basecamp after the Chicago-based software company announced last week that it would no longer allow political discussions on the corporate platform. Employees are free to have these conversations in private accounts, but “it can no longer happen where the work is,” said CEO Jason Fried.

Talk of “politics, lawyers, or society in general” has become a “major distraction” that is “not healthy” and “has not served us well,” Fried wrote. Employees shouldn’t have to wonder if an accomplice is complicit or if you are a target. These waters are difficult enough to navigate in life, but far more difficult to navigate at work. ”

Seems reasonable enough. The company offered “those who can see no future at Basecamp under this new leadership” a severance payment of up to six months’ salary, said co-founder David Heinemeier Hansson. “No hard feelings, no questions asked.”

So much for goodwill. A day later, one was running on the Verge website Hit piece citing unidentified employees who make vague claims that the company is not committed to diversity, equity and inclusion. Among the alleged bomb shells, Verge revealed that “customer service agents have started keeping a list of names they found funny”.

Messrs. Hansson and Fried had already apologized for the list of their employees which they considered to be inadequate. But Mr Hansson rejected the claim that such behavior “is part of a pyramid of escalations that can lead to genocide”. This claim is “just not an appropriate or proportionate comparison to drawing,” says Hansson said. That’s for sure.

Rep. Ted Lieu (D., California) joined the pile on Friday. tweet Basecamp’s new policy could prevent employees from “talking about fear of hate incidents”. But employees can indulge in their fears or loathe anything they want in their free time. A company is not obliged to make itself a political public space.

Journal Editorial Report: The Best and the Worst of the Week by Kim Strassel, Kyle Peterson, Jillian Melchior, and Dan Henninger. Image: AP / AFP / Getty Images Composite: Mark Kelly

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Published in the print edition of May 4, 2021.

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