#5SmartReads - February 2, 2023
Hitha on the impact of Brexit, male mediocrity, and an overlooked solution to reduce crime.
It’s time to talk about male mediocrity at work (Fortune via Yahoo! Finance)
…and it’s also time men be the ones having this discussion, versus us having it behind their backs.
“Strategic incompetence is the colleague who claims to be terrible at math, so that you handle all the spreadsheets. The husband who does such a bad vacuuming job that you take on the chore yourself. It’s not straightforward laziness—it’s a reluctance to do the lower-value jobs that Vesterlund and coauthors Linda Babcock, Brenda Peyser, and Laurie Weingart call “non-promotable.” This is the work that doesn’t get much credit or garner accolades; work that’s often invisible. It’s not just men who avoid it—but who am I kidding? It’s mostly men.”
Ross McCammon may be a rare public man calling attention to this behavior, and I sincerely hope he’s not the last.
Normalizing the term “non-promotable work” in our workplaces is a simple and effective first step in highlighting strategic incompetence at work, and delegating this work fairly.
I also recommend re-visiting yesterday’s smart reads:
The HBR piece on confidence being weaponized against women reads differently after reading Ross’ own reflections on his use of strategic incompetence at work.
Supporting A Queen (Essence)
The amount of wisdom in this interview between icons Jackée Harry and Sheryl Lee Ralph is immense. Grab your notebook or open a new note in the Notes app.
Harry was the first Black woman to win the Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series in 1987. That it would be another 35 years before another Black woman would win the same award is both unsurprising and depressing.
And yet, these women are honest in their reflections, have incredibly generous spirits, and continue to make history while making us laugh.
Harry’s words “It’s show business. You can’t live in the past. But don’t get amnesia,” are what I’ve scribbled down in my journal and what I’ll be putting on my vision board. It’s applicable to every part of life, and some wise advice I’ll be holding close to my heart.
5 Ways Investing in Public Space Reduces Violence and Crime (Reimagining the Civic Commons)
When we talk about public safety, the conversation is centered on policing and answering the “well if not the police, who will respond to an incident?” question.
But the question we should be focused on is “how do we reduce violence and crime in the first place?” And when you think about the difference between “safe” communities and those who experience higher rates of crime, public spaces are a significant factor.
Parks. Playgrounds. Community centers. Even just the presence of trees can make an impact in one’s mental and physical health.
Take a look at this initiative in Philadelphia (Go Birds!):
“In Philadelphia, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania showed that transforming vacant lots into green space significantly reduces gun violence in surrounding neighborhoods. The researchers randomly chose vacant lots to receive one of three interventions, either a “clean and green” intervention, which included cleaning up trash, planting new grass and trees, installing low wooden post-and-rail fences around the perimeter and performing regular maintenance; trash cleanup only; or no intervention.
The researchers found that, after both the greening and trash cleanup interventions, gun violence went down significantly. The effects were strongest in neighborhoods where residents live below the poverty line: Crime dropped by up to 29 percent on these blocks. And, 18 months later, researchers found no evidence that crime was pushed to other parts of the city.”
Fun fact: former Eagle Connor Barwin stayed in the city when he was released from the team, and his foundation focuses on building parks and playgrounds in communities that don’t have them. It’s a Philly Thing, baby (okay, I’m done).
Jessica Simpson On The Time She Was Pursued By A Backstreet Boy & An *NSYNC Member (Bustle)
Short stories and novellas have been my reading savior when I’m not in a reading mood (or to get back into fantasy):
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If fantasy isn’t your thing, it’s all good. Jessica Simpson has your back with this Amazon original story (available on Kindle Unlimited!). While this lacks the vulnerability and depth of Open Book, it’s a quick, easy read that scratches a nostalgic itch.
But if you want something more, I highly recommend preordering Laura Hankin’s forthcoming novel The Daydreams - it’s so good (and out May 2).
What impact has Brexit had on the UK economy? (BBC)
All things considered, not a great one. But it’s also important to consider the non-Brexit factors here (energy crisis triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, economic recovery after the pandemic).
But there are also plenty of Brexit-related factors that have contributed to Britain’s economy’s contraction:
red tape in the new trade agreements has caused fewer trade partnerships and amount traded
a lack of investment (outside investment was slow pre-Brexit, but higher than it is now)
withdrawing from the EU contracted Britain’s labor force.
GDP shrunk in from 2019-2022 in Britain, where it grew in EU member cxountries like Italy, France, and Germany.
Things don’t look great - but they’re also not as bad as they could’ve been. Time will tell on if and how Britain will bounce back.