Last Monday, Chicago-based software company Basecamp issued a statement saying it made a number of changes, including a ban on political discussions about its company Basecamp account.
“Today’s social and political waters are extremely choppy. The sensitivities are at 11 o’clock, and any discussion that is externally related to politics, advocacy, or society in general is quickly spinning away from pleasant,” the company said. “You should not have to wonder if staying out of it means you are complicit, or wading into it means you are a target.”
The changes were heralded as a “new label on social policy”
But the internal reception of the more inclusive guidelines was not too welcome, with reports coming in that a third of the company’s employee base had gone out and accepted resignation packages.
Heinemeier Hansson had offered the buyout packages as a “no questions asked” option for those who were not willing to accept the changes.
“We all offered at Basecamp an option for a severance package for up to six months ‘salary for those who have been in the company for over three years, and three months’ salary for those who are less than that,” he explained. “No hard feelings, no questions asked. For those who cannot see a future at Basecamp under this new direction, we are helping them in any way we can to land somewhere else.”
The edge reported about 18 of the company’s 57 employees were out.
Heinemeier Hansson referred to the publication as aeration of dirty clothes in previous reporting. As he confirmed, the initial motivation for the letter stemmed from internal disagreement over a controversial “Best Name List” by Basecamp customers.
The long existence of ‘Best Names Ever’ shows that [employee 1] described yesterday represents a serious, collective and repeated failure in Basecamp. One that we need to learn from together by transparently tracing its origins and history, ”said Heinemeier Hansson.
“Not only was it disrespectful to our customers and a violation of basic privacy expectations, but it was also contrary to creating an inclusive workplace. No one should think it is okay or sanctioned to put up such a list here.”
The edge said several of the names on the list, which repeatedly appeared over the years and which the management was very aware of, were of Asian or African origin.
Further changes that the company announced as part of the update were: No more paternalistic benefits, a promise to be committee-free, the promise to stop dwelling on previous decisions, no more 360 employee reviews and “no forgetting what we do here”.
The company is yet to comment on the in-depth study of its attempt at a cultural update.