Jason Fried, announcing some policy changes they’ve made at Basecamp:
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. 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 on our company Basecamp account where the work happens. People can take the conversations with willing co-workers to Signal, Whatsapp, or even a personal Basecamp account, but it can’t happen where the work happens anymore.
They got a lot of heat for this. I guess people really like political discussions at work or something.
But I think it’s a positive change and will result in a much more pleasant environment for all of the folks at Basecamp. Personally, unless it’s directly related to your work, I think you should avoid political discussions on employer-run communication channels.
If you feel the need to voice your opinions on such matters, there’s plenty of other places to share it. Start a weblog, publish it on Twitter, or write about it on Substack — there’s an endless sea of options.
I think this bit from David Heinemeier Hansson adds a bit more context behind these decisions:
But more so than just whether I think that’s productive or healthy, a significant contingency of Basecamp employees had been raising private flags about this as well. Finding the discussions to be exactly acrimonious, uncomfortable, unresolved. Yet feeling unable to speak up out of fear that they’d have an accusatory label affixed to their person for refusing to accept the predominant framing of the issues presented by other more vocal employees.
Which gets to the root of the dilemma. If you do indeed strive to have a diverse workforce both ideologically and identity wise, you’re not going to find unison on all these difficult, contentious issues. If you did, you’d both be revealing an intellectual monoculture and we wouldn’t be having these acrimonious debates.
Whether you think it’s important to share thoughts on politics and societal issues or not, it’s definitely unhealthy to create an environment where colleagues feel backed into a corner on contentious matters that aren’t work related.
It’s easy to have the knee-jerk reaction — to be frustrated about these changes because we all want the world to be a better place. But I think most, after a bit of pondering, can recognize that the individuals within Basecamp can continue advocating for the issues that are most important to them. They simply aren’t afforded an audience of colleagues that just want to get their work done without being faced with all of the world’s most difficult problems.