CFFS Backs Corporations' Rights to Limit Politcal Speech in Workplace
Software, cryptocurrency companies among latest to limit ‘woke’ speech that limits productivity
Mesa, AZ – When Basecamp CEO Jason Fried announced to his company’s 60 employees on April 26 that political speech and debate would no longer be permitted on the company’s internal work communications system, he rightly expected some blowback. Modern technology companies are liberally staffed with progressive-minded millennials who have grown up believing in their inherent right to have their opinions recognized and respected, and Fried’s project management software company was no different. What he may not have expected, however, was a mass exodus of disillusioned employees who didn’t know how to process the fact that someone didn’t want to hear every political thought they had to say.
Roughly one-third of Basecamp’s employees quit their positions or took buyouts in protest of the new policy, complaining on their way out the door that management was wrong to prioritize productivity over politics. Patrick Wood, founder and director of Citizens for Free Speech (CFFS) disagreed.
“At CFFS, we support free speech in all its forms, but there’s a time and place for different types of speech,” Wood argued. “The workplace is not the right time and place if disagreements and debates are impacting the productivity of the business or its relationship with clients and customers. A company must be allowed to establish standards for workers while they’re on the clock.”
In his memo to his staff announcing the policy shift away from “woke” political speech in the workplace, despite his own progressive leanings, Fried reminded that, “We make project management, team communication, and email software…we are not a social impact company.”
The statement was jarring to the Basecamp “base”, which clearly believed that social impact and left-wing politics were indeed in their job descriptions, but Fried and Basecamp co-founder David Heinemeier Hansson were firm.
“We don’t have to solve deep social problems, chime in publicly whenever the world requests our opinion on the major issues of the day, or get behind one movement or another with time or treasure,” Fried wrote. These are all important topics, but they’re not our topics at work.”
Basecamp was not the first tech company to rein in the politics of wokeness among staff members. In September of last year, Coinbase—a cryptocurrency company—announced that partisan politics would no longer be acceptable topics of discussion within the company.
Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong told employees, “We could use our work day debating what to do about various unrelated challenges in the world, but that would not be in service of the company or our own interests as employees and shareholders.”
The policy led to at least 60 resignations from the company of just over 1,200.
Wood supported the workers’ rights to leave, while continuing to argue for the rights of companies to establish boundaries.
“Employees should not be fired or reprimanded for having their own views,” the CFFS founder explained, “but if they bring these views into the workplace, and they impact or hamper productivity, then the company has the right to act. That’s not suppression of speech, and it’s not censorship. Respect in the workplace must be a two-way street, and that means respecting the rights of the company to maintain a peaceful, productive work environment free of divisive political or societal issues that are not in the company’s best interests.”
For more information about CFFS please visit www.CitizensForFreeSpeech.org.
National Director of Communications