A Look Behind Basecamp’s Controversial Employment Policies

Basecamp CEO Jason Fried announced some changes at the remote working platform company on Monday. The most significant change seems to be the one over political speech:

No more societal and political discussions on our company Basecamp account. 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.

As companies have become more involved in politics–and some companies facing scrutiny not for speaking up–the culture becomes tense. Fried’s memo seems to attack that problem by saying we just aren’t going to talk about politics. This, of course, can lead people to think that the company doesn’t support the things they struggle with, making some people feel like that they have less of a voice.

To keep reading, click here: A Look Behind Basecamp’s Controversial Employment Policies

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3 thoughts on “A Look Behind Basecamp’s Controversial Employment Policies

  1. There are problems with a “no discussing politics at work” policy. One is that some HR policies, or the lack of certain ones (diversity training), are a political subject, so the policy then amounts to “don’t discuss the political decisions the company imposes on you.”

    Another is that some employers (Google!) have a toxic culture in which an in-group defined by politics discriminates against or even blacklists employees who disagree with their politics. If discussing the topic is banned then victims (and those who suspect they are victims) cannot even try to investigate the situation.

  2. Discussing anything but work objectives at a workplace while being paid to work, used to be called goofing off. I like the statement in this article that refers to “adulting”. You can’t just do as you like while working, if you have a problem dealing with it, make an appointment with HR who will be glad to explain the rules of work performance.

  3. Unless you work at a political entity, discussing politics at work is a bad idea. Fried didn’t ban employees from discussing politics, just said such discussions couldn’t occur on the company’s account. It’s amazing that would even be considered “controversial.” Traditionally, companies have discouraged their employees from using company resources for non-business purposes. More recently, businesses have had to remind employees to treat each other civilly and some have even had to implement codes of conduct, including so-called “No A**hole” policies designed to prevent people from jerk-like or bullying behavior in the workplace. It’s a shame that such measures are even necessary, but they do help preserve employee relations and decrease unnecessary, counter-productive, behavior at work. I’m a Federal employee and am extremely grateful that the Hatch Act eliminates partisan political activity while we’re trying to work.

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