Good morning, Broadsheet readers! PagerDuty’s CEO apologizes for her layoffs announcement, the impact of the pandemic on kids’ education is lasting, and a writer reflects on his own experience with male mediocrity at work. Have a lovely Tuesday.
– Getting ahead. There’s an essay in the new issue of Fortune that is sure to ruffle some feathers. Writer Ross McCammon dives into the idea of “strategic incompetence,” explaining why men weaponize it and how he learned to stop.
What is strategic incompetence? It’s “the colleague who claims to be terrible at math, so that you handle all the spreadsheets” or “the husband who does such a bad vacuuming job that you take on the chore yourself,” McCammon explains with some help from Lise Vesterlund, a coauthor of The No Club: Putting a Stop to Women’s Dead-End Work.
Men have risen the corporate ladder with the help of charm—or smarm—and avoidance of undesirable tasks for decades. McCammon, who spent years in the especially masculine work environments of men’s magazines, reflects on times in his own career when he offloaded tasks to a female colleague, sometimes without realizing what he was doing.
I started to understand some of those behaviors as manipulative, a way of getting others to do work I didn’t want to do. When I saw those tendencies in myself, I couldn’t unsee them. And I began to see the damage this kind of behavior does to women and people of color—and to the morale, productiveness, and creativity of everyone in a workplace.
But times are changing. McCammon is the author of the 2015 book Works Well With Others, which he now acknowledges offers career advice that works best for white men. The type of people skills that propped up the old boys’ club aren’t quite as effective over Zoom. Gen Z has less patience for this approach to the workplace than their predecessors; younger workers would rather ask questions about tasks they don’t understand than strategically avoid them to seem more impressive to superiors.
That change could lead to a more equitable workplace. Because while strategic incompetence helped white men climb the corporate ladder, it left behind the women and people of color who disproportionately took on the grunt work that had to get done but didn’t lead to promotions.
I highly recommend reading McCammon’s whole essay here. Maybe you’ll recognize some experiences from your own workplaces.
The Broadsheet is Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women. Today’s edition was curated by Kinsey Crowley. Subscribe here.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
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- A layoff low. PagerDuty CEO Jennifer Tejada apologized for her statement announcing that the company would lay off 7% of its workforce. She received backlash after quoting Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1,700-word email that included both corporate speak and what some saw as inappropriate optimism. CBS News
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- Learning curbed. The COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted children's learning as late as mid-2022, according to a new study. While there was no differentiation in impact among grades, the researchers found that kids from disadvantaged backgrounds were most susceptible. Bloomberg
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
- Health care ban. Utah's governor signed a bill Saturday that bans gender-affirming health care for trans youth statewide. The legislation bans surgery, and it prohibits hormone treatments for minors diagnosed with gender dysphoria after the bill's effective date of May 3. Such medical treatments have been supported by every major medical association in the country, the ACLU of Utah pointed out in a letter of opposition. NPR
- Brag on. Bragging can have career benefits. But many people, especially women, cringe at the thought of boasting about their accomplishments. To pull it off, skip the humblebrag, tell your story like it is, and shout out those who helped you along the way. Wall Street Journal
- House arrest soirée. Anna “Delvey” Sorokin is getting her own television series. In Delvey's Dinner Club, she will invite celebrities to intimate dinners at her house. The show has to be at her home because she is on house arrest after being convicted of grand larceny and overstaying her visa. Variety
ON MY RADAR
You don’t have to be complicit in our culture of destruction New York Times
Can poetry heal a broken world? Elle
How comics changed queer Americans’ lives—and why bans might backfire Washington Post
It’s Glo time The Cut
“I’m really grateful for this teaching me humility and resilience.”
—Jordan Gibbs, who documented on TikTok her experience applying to 173 jobs after being laid off last year.
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