Men weaponize strategic incompetence at work

Men weaponize strategic incompetence at work

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! PagerDuty’s CEO apologizes for her layoff announcement, the impact of the pandemic on children’s education is lasting, and an author reflects on his own experience with male mediocrity at work. Happy Tuesday.

– To move forward. There’s an essay in the new issue of Fortune that’s sure to ruffle a few feathers. Author 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 co-worker who claims he’s terrible at math so you handle all the spreadsheets” or “the guy who does such a bad vacuuming job that you take on the task yourself,” explains McCammon with a little help from Lise Vesterlund , a co-author of The No Club: Putting a Stop to Women’s Dead End Work.

For decades, men have climbed the corporate ladder using charm—or smarts—and avoiding unwanted tasks. McCammon, who spent years in the predominantly male work environments of men’s magazines, reflects on times in his own career when he would offload tasks to a female colleague, sometimes without realizing what he was doing.

He writes:

I came to understand some of that behavior as manipulative, a way to get others to do work I didn’t want to do. When I saw those tendencies in myself, I couldn’t help it. And I began to see the damage this kind of behavior does to women and people of color—and to the morale, productivity, and creativity of everyone in a workplace.

But times change. McCammon is the author of the 2015 book Works Well With Others, which he now admits offers career advice that works best for white men. The type of people skills that underpinned 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 appear more impressive to superiors.

That change could lead to a fairer 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 needed to be done but didn’t lead to promotions.

I highly recommend reading McCammon’s entire essay here. Perhaps you will recognize some experiences from your own workplaces.

Emma Hinchliffe
[email protected]

The Broadsheet is Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women. Today’s edition was compiled by Kinsey Crowley. Sign up here.


– No “tit for tat.” Some House Republicans have voiced opposition to the removal of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from sitting on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Speaker Kevin McCarthy has long vowed to remove Omar from her seat in a move many see as “tit for tat” after Democrats voted conspiracy theorist Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) removed from committees in 2021. The Hill

– A low discharge. PagerDuty CEO Jennifer Tejada apologized for her statement announcing that the company would lay off 7% of its workforce. She received backlash after her Martin Luther King Jr. cited in the 1,700-word email that included both corporate talk and what some saw as inappropriate optimism. CBS News

– Middle ground? Rep. Anti-abortion Nancy Mace (RS.C.) says the Republican Party must back down on strict abortion bans that do not allow exceptions for rape or incest. She has received criticism from leaders in both antiabortion and pro-choice organizations for her stance. The 19th

– Learning limited. The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted children’s learning as late as mid-2022, according to a new study. Although there was no differentiation in impact between grades, the researchers found that children from disadvantaged backgrounds were most susceptible. Bloomberg


– Ban on health care. Utah’s governor signed a bill Saturday banning gender-affirming health care for trans youth statewide. The legislation bans surgery, and it bans hormone treatments for minors diagnosed with gender dysphoria after the bill’s May 3 effective date. 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

– Bragging. Bragging can have career benefits. But many people, especially women, cringe at the thought of bragging about their accomplishments. To pull it off, skip the humble brag, 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 home. The show must be at her home because she is under house arrest after being convicted of grand larceny and overstaying her visa. Variety


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 Banning May Fend Off Washington Post

It’s Glo time The Cut


“I’m really grateful that it taught me humility and resilience.”

—Jordan Gibbs, who documented on TikTok her experience applying to 173 jobs after being laid off last year.

This is the web version of The Broadsheet, a daily newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women. Sign up to get it delivered to your inbox for free.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *