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An exec at $2.75 billion startup GitLab resigns over claims that the company is ‘engaging in discriminatory and retaliatory behavior’ after proposing a ban on hiring in China and Russia

Candice Ciresi, GitLab's director of risk and global compliance has resigned after less than six months on the job, apparently saying that the $2.75 billion startup is “engaging in discriminatory and retaliatory behavior.”

Notably, Ciresi resigned in public: GitLab espouses a culture of transparency, whereby all major product and corporate policy decisions are announced and discussed where anybody can see. She posted her resignation in response to one such discussion — an active debate over a proposed GitLab policy, whereby it would ban the hiring of people who live in China or Russia for any role which would require access to customer data.

At the time of writing, Ciresi's post announcing her resignation had been reviewed and then “redacted” by GitLab, citing concerns that it would “further inflame this situation.”

However, Ciresi's comment went out via email to GitLab users who had subscribed to this particular discussion. Per a screenshot posted to Reddit, Ciresi wrote: “As I believe GitLab is engaging in discriminatory and retaliatory behavior, I have tendered my resignation.”

“We did decide to moderate this post for review, as there have already been credible personal and physical threats against GitLab employees in this issue thread,” GitLab says in part, in place of Ciresi's comment. “While this particular post did not contain a personal threat to anyone, we were concerned it would further inflame this situation.”

GitLab confirmed Ciresi's departure, but declined to comment further on matters of personnel.

The backstory

GitLab, which creates software that helps developers ship code faster and more often, has raised a total of $413.82 million in venture capital funding. In September, it raised a Series E round of $268 million, and has said that it plans to go public in 2020.

In October, the company — which has an all-remote workforce located around the globe — proposed that new policy, citing “expressed concern of several enterprise customers, and also what is becoming a common practice in our industry in the current geopolitical climate.”

It said that it didn't currently employ anybody in those countries, but that the proposal was intended to be forward-looking — but that it would also bar current employees from moving to either place.

Notably, the company preaches a completely transparent culture, whereby its executives post updates on the company — both product news and corporate updates — for anybody to see, and for any user to discuss. This particular policy set off an active, sometimes fiery, weeks-long discussion.

“This issue can be regarded as act of aggression. In response, all Russian and Chinese programmers and admins must refuse GitLab. From now, it is the toxic political crap. Politics has no place on IT,” said one recent comment, in part.

In the discussion of the policy, Ciresi herself wrote: “It seems odd that we proclaim that we will accept any customer not prohibited by law but we are implementing controls that impact employees based on a perceived political climate. This is contradictory.”

Ciresi's comment was an apparent reference to another incident in October, when the company updated its company handbook to say that it would not reject customers on “moral/value grounds,” and banned political discussion in the workplace. The company reversed its stance not long after, following a backlash.

Ciresi did not respond to a request for comment.

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