Last Monday, Chicago-based software company Basecamp issued a statement saying it was making a number of changes, including a ban on political discussions in its Basecamp account.
“Today’s social and political waters are particularly exciting. Sensitivity is 11 and any discussion remotely related to politics, advocacy or society at large is quickly separated from the pleasant,” the company said. “You shouldn’t wonder if staying away from it means you’re an accomplice, or getting into it means you’re a target.”
The changes were highlighted as a “new public policy label”
But internal adoption of the more inclusive guidelines was not very welcome, with reports emerging that a third of the company’s employees had left, accepting compensation packages.
Heinemeier Hansson had offered the buy-in packages as a “no questions asked” option for those who did not want to accept the changes.
“We offered everyone at Basecamp the option of a compensation package worth up to six months ‘salary for those who have been with the company for three years, and three months’ salary for those in the company less than that,” he explained. “There are no hard feelings, no questions asked. For those who can’t see a future at Basecamp under this new guide, we will help them in any way we can to land elsewhere.”
On the edge reported that about 18 of the company’s 57 employees were out of work.
Heinmeier Hanson cited the publication as airing his dirty laundry in previous reports. As he confirmed, the initial motivation for the letter stemmed from an internal disagreement over the controversial “Best Names List” of Basecamp customers.
The long existence of the list of “Best Names Ever” [employee 1] described yesterday represents a serious, collective and recurring failure at Basecamp. One from which we must learn together, transparently tracing its origins and history, “said Heinmeier Hanson.
“This was not only a disrespect to our customers and a breach of basic expectations of confidentiality, but it was also contrary to the creation of an inclusive workplace. No one should think that maintaining such a list is good or sanctioned behavior here.”
On the edge said several of the names on the list, which have appeared several times over the years and for which management was well aware, were of Asian or African descent.
Additional changes the company announced as part of its refresh were: No more paternalistic benefits, a promise to be without commissions, a promise to stop delaying past decisions, no more 360 employee feedback, and “I won’t forget what we do here.” .
The company has yet to comment on the implications of its experience of cultural refreshment.