Wokeness At Work II. Basecamp: Implosion, Or Addition By Subtraction?

Approximately 1/3 of Basecamp’s staff (18 of 57 people) have resigned or given notice after management banned social and political discussions on company email accounts. Has Basecamp “imploded,” or do the departures represent “addition by subtraction”?

Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right

My previous column discussed the rationale and details of Basecamp’s new policy.

More power to those workers who feel they no longer can or will work at Basecamp. If working for a company crosses your principles or sensibilities and change is impractical, moving on is the right and proper thing to do.

The Last Thing On My Mind

Among those leaving are a number of senior people.

It would be interesting to know how may leavers have fully vested options. Some severance packages also reportedly include up to six months’ salary. Such information places the financial aspects of departures in context.

Other takes on departures will only be known in time. For example, how quickly and well will Basecamp fill its vacancies? How welcome, or unwelcome, will leavers find themselves in the marketplace? And at what firms?

Addition By Subtraction?

Whitey Herzog

Hall of Fame St. Louis Cardinals Manager Whitey Herzog referred to removal of talented but divisive players from the roster as “addition by subtraction.”

Of course, one player about whom Herzog made the commment, Keith Hernandez, would later help the rival New York Mets win a World Series.

Herzog’s response (or rationalization) was that Hernandez “never would have been as good for us as he has been with the Mets.”

A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand

The widespread departures at Basecamp suggest that the company suffered from a deep cultural and philisophical divide.

If a house divided against itself cannot stand, the departures of 18 of 57 people, notwithstanding their talent, may represent a boon for Basecamp.

Departing also gives leavers a chance to find a better workplace fit.

As with Hernandez, of course, only time will let us reckon the net effect of Basecamp’s policy on the company and its ex-staffers.

Birds Of A Feather Flock Together

At this point, only candidates who want a politics-free workplace will apply to Basecamp. And ex-Basecampers will likely only seek new jobs at places that permit social and political discussions on company systems.

Our workforce, or parts of it, may therefore self-sort. This could lead to individual workplaces that are more homogenous, with sectors or geographies that are more diverse.

So long as no sorting, or self-sorting, occurs along prohibited lines (e.g., race, sex), it should be legal.

But if it indeed happens society-wide, how should we measure plus and minus?

And should we think of it as implosion, or addition by subtraction?


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