Basecamp, a firm known for cultivating efficient and positive professional environments, made an announcement Monday that was more notable for the fact that, in 2021, it needed to be said: The project-management software company declared that it was a company focused on developing project management software, not an entity that should try to shape Americans’ political opinions, engineer its employees’ personal lives, or take positions on unrelated public debates.
The company’s co-founders laid out their refined vision for the company, including cutting ties with things it has done in the past. The changes reject the mission creep that has increasingly overtaken large companies in Silicon Valley and elsewhere, and return to the product-focused ethos that fueled the company when they founded it in 2004. They are:
1. No more societal and political discussions in the workplace during company time, on company communications channels.
“It’s a major distraction. It saps our energy, and redirects our dialog towards dark places,” CEO Jason Fried wrote.
Co-founder David Heinemeier Hansson, the company’s chief technology officer and creator of the populator web development framework Ruby on Rails, elaborated:
Basecamp should be a place where employees can come to work with colleagues of all backgrounds and political convictions without having to deal with heavy political or societal debates unconnected to that work.
You shouldn’t have to wonder if staying out of it means you’re complicit, or stepping into it means you’re a target. That is difficult enough outside of work, but almost impossible at work.
By trying to have the debates around such incredibly sensitive societal politics inside the company, we’re setting ourselves up for strife, with little chance of actually changing anyone’s mind.
We also like to tell ourselves that having these discussions with the whole company is “healthy”. I used to think that too, but I no longer do. I think it’s become ever more stressful, unnerving, and counterproductive. …
Next, Basecamp, as a company, is no longer going to weigh-in publicly on societal political affairs, outside those that directly connect to the business.