One of the Basecamp founders explains why they bought out their SJW employees:
This was the second such discussion in a few months that had to be closed out following an acrimonious devolution that pitted employees against each other, and stressed these complicated power dynamics between managers and reports, all on a company-wide stage that invariably pulled everyone into the spectacle.
Together with other acrimonious debates and inappropriate discussions with roots in societal politics on our internal communication systems, this formed the context that led to the recently announced changes. After going through repeated, worsening incidents like this, we took a hard look at why we kept doing this, and kept getting the same unproductive, unhealthy results.
I’ve read some opinions on all of this that charge that facilitating these kinds of discussions, however acrimonious or uncomfortable or unresolved, is actually good, because a lot of life right now is acrimonious, uncomfortable, and unresolved, so work should reflect that. I can’t get behind those arguments. As I wrote in the segment posted from our internal announcement of the changes, all of that, inasmuch as it does not directly relate to the business, is already so much of everyone’s lives all the time on Twitter, Facebook, or wherever. Demanding that it also has to play out in our shared workspaces isn’t going to lead anywhere good, in my opinion.
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.
So if that is something you want, I continue to believe that a diverse workforce _should_ be something that you want, you have to consider what guardrails to put on the internal discourse. My belief is that the key to working with other people of different ideological persuasions is to find common cause in the work, in the relations with customers, in the good we can do in the industry. Not to repeatedly seek out all the hard edges where we differ. Those explorations are better left to the smaller groups, to discussions outside of the company-wide stage, and between willing participants.
It’s a good start. But it’s not sufficient. The problem is that a diverse workforce is at the very least inefficient and less productive, no matter what sort of lipstick you attempt to put on the pig. And it will eventually become a disaster if you aren’t prepared to actively screen out the infestants determined to converge your company.
Of course, it’s much better to maintain professional standards that attempt to keep SJW employees in line, but sooner or later, it will become clear that doing so simply isn’t possible. Especially if you haven’t gotten rid of your HR department.