On Basecamp and the Privilege of Being White at Work
You may have heard or read (because they made it public so they clearly wanted you to) about Basecamp’s business announcement, shifting back to what they have described as a return to “ what we do best”. In reading it, it seems that what they do best is focus on capitalism, human beings as more production than people, and upholding unearned privilege in the workplace. The 6 points outline ways in which they are removing levels of decision-making power, input, and shifting to a top-down approach to their model. When you first start to read it, you may not have alarm bells going off, as you may think, well this seems like a typical company. And it’s really not atypical to see companies choosing to pretend that their organization, no matter its mission, is somehow not at all connected to societal and political issues. But what you don’t see are companies sharing this publicly, which in itself is a choice.
The announcement itself shares a level of privilege and lack of awareness that screams we don’t have to deal with these ‘issues’ at work, all the while failing to realize that you don’t have to because of your racial and gender identity. White men are continuously failing to recognize that the society that they experience from work to home is not the society of many others who yes, work at the businesses they find and decide to scale at large. Individuals who do not have the privilege to suddenly decide they can as easily pretend to leave their experiences at home or that their one, singular organization is somehow exempt and disconnected from issues of systemic racism and non-inclusive culture norms. Interesting. Basecamp notes that they are not a social impact company and therefore they don’t need to have these conversations at work.
The problem: they still have people who are directly impacted by society working for them.
Some of those people have begun to speak out, sharing their own experiences and reasonings for why this announcement was made. One of those reasons: a call-in of the leaders about a list of “ funny names’’ that led to a difference of opinions on how it was acknowledged to be harmful that then led to a perspective that employee opinions had moved past the place of “productive”. This comes from leaders who themselves named publicly their gaps in diversity as recently…