A Good Enough Device
Hyman Minsky | Bralessness | Unpacking Job Ads | Factoids | Elsewhere
Quote of the Moment
While the market mechanism is a good enough device for making social decisions about unimportant matters such as the mix of colors in the production of frocks, the length of skirts, or the flavors of ice cream, it cannot and should not be relied upon for important, big matters such as the distribution of income, the maintenance of economic stability, the capital development of the economy, and the education and training of the young.
| Hyman Minsky, Stabilizing an Unstable Economy
A reader asked Vanessa Friedman about the ‘rules’ around women wearing bras at work. She offers this, in part, after pointing out places where there are, in fact, laws about showing the nipples and where toplessness is allowed (like New York City):
Abandoning the bra isn’t just about changing mores when it comes to underwear. It’s about gender norms, the reality (and historical fear) of women’s bodies, power struggles and sexual stereotypes.
To be faced with freed breasts, whether or not nipples are visible, is to be forced to confront deep-seated prejudices about all of this, and that is both upsetting and distracting to a lot of people. Especially at this particular moment in time, when control of women’s bodies and their reproductive purpose has become once again a hot-button political issue. It reminds me of the brouhaha that arose a few years ago when the parent of a Notre Dame student complained about girls in leggings, saying they were distracting for the boys.
It is not, of course, your job to make other people comfortable or to help them sort through their own feelings about all of the above. Though if you are actually on the job, it is also true that group dynamics matter, and you may not want to spend a chunk of time with colleagues having to discuss your breasts. At least for now, however, it is still your choice.
Friedman lines up pretty well with Roxanne Gaye’s advice:
Too Many Free Nipples
The young ones tend to never wear a bra and come to the office in cropped tops and braless (sometimes sheer tops). What is with the hate on bras? Is this a generational preference? I am very happy to wear a comfortable bra every day and I am uncomfortable not wearing one. I find this new generation of braless ladies rude and unprofessional. These young ladies do not seem to mind the stares from others and more so when the office gets a little chilly. I have nothing against “free the nipple” but why impose this on others in a professional environment?
Women are not imposing their nipples on you by existing, braless, in public spaces. You are imposing your judgment on their bodies. Why does this preoccupy you so? It could be useful to interrogate the judgments you place on other people’s bodies and why those bodies, in their natural state, make you so uncomfortable.
Most work environments have professional dress standards, and it may well be that the “young ones” are flouting those standards, but that’s not really something you need to vex yourself over. That’s an H.R. issue that is none of your business. Try to let this go. Nipples exist. Sometimes, they are erect beneath clothing. The human body is not shameful. It’s a perfectly natural thing.
Just remember, a generation of young women in Iran are demonstrating at the risk of their lives to be able to appear in public without head scarves.
We should accept that the twenty-first century might involve a few changes in dress norms, and bras are a likely foray there.
Unpacking Job Ads
In Reading Between the Lines, Bob Marshall directs our attention to the hidden messages in job descriptions:
Most job adverts are like first dates—everyone’s on their best behaviour. But that killer smile often masks an assortment of quirks, don’t you think? Phrases like “fast-paced environment” might be code for “you’ll regularly be drowning in work,” while “must be a self-starter” is most often a shorthand for “you’re on your own, mate.”
A straightfaced decoding of what these code words mean can be found in What the Buzzwords in a Job Posting Really Mean by Alison Doyle. For example:
Or sometimes "no job too small" or "willing to pitch in"—these kinds of keyword indicate a company that may have a very flat organization. Don't expect to have someone printing out documents for you: in a flexible work environment, workers are often expected to solve their own problems.
This can indicate a need to switch gears quickly, work unexpected or atypical hours (such as nights and weekends) to get the job done, and to be able to do things outside of the job description.
At a lower level, this could also indicate that you'll be asked to do rather menial work (picking up coffee; dropping off dry cleaning).
Similar keywords: works well under pressure, thinks outside of the box, multitasking
In other words, you are going to be worked like a rented mule.
Quickway Transportation Inc. must reopen a terminal in Louisville, Ky., that the company illegally shut down in 2020 after drivers there formed a union, the National Labor Relations Board ruled. | Quickway’s Post-Unionizing Terminal Closure Unlawful, NLRB Rules
The National Labor Relations Board has become more activist under Biden.
80% of executives say they would have approached their company’s return-to-office strategy differently if they had access to workplace data to inform their decision-making. | Envoy
They admit they were wrong but blame the lack of data.
Farms cover close to 40% of the planet’s land. | The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services via Aimee Rawlins
In China, the pension akin to Social Security in the United States pays about $410 a month to seniors who live in cities and only $25 a month in the countryside. Public health care covers less than half of people’s costs. Unemployment insurance provides around $220 a month; the U.S. average is nearly $1,700. | Keith Bradsher
This is why an economic slowdown will hit so hard. Pensioners only get pennies; 25% of young people are unemployed, and many people in between have invested their savings in owning unfinished apartments that can’t be rented.
I wrote a three-part series for Sunsama on strategic decision-making: Getting Strategic About Decision-Making, A Checklist For Strategic Decision-Making, and Strategic Decision-Making: The Decision Itself.
In this series on strategic decision-making, I have explored the labyrinth of cognitive biases that the human mind represents that we are confronted with when attempting to make decisions. In short, we are each of us switching between two parallel minds: an intuitive mind that works well for everyday uses, like opening doors, and walking down the street while avoiding collisions with others; and a reflective mind, one that is always monitoring what’s going on, but which is employed when intuitive reasoning is inadequate, as in the face of uncertainty, or the application of rules or numbers.
The intuitive mind is always creating a narrative — telling us stories — and trying hard to jump to conclusions. It’s good for being startled by a snake in the park, but does a bad job of applying systems of thinking that are not innate, like arithmetic.
It may be that in an additional million years humans may evolve so that the reflective mind has more control, and the cognitive biases that want us to take shortcuts are quieted, but that day is far off.
In essence, the core of strategic decision-making is to avoid the tendency of the intuitive mind to jump to conclusions through the tangled illogic of biases. The key to actually accomplishing that is to acknowledge, first, that we need to actively seek out bias in decision-making because otherwise, it will creep in.
At Reworked, I wrote about Employee Experience under Threat:
The cumulative effects of pandemic stress have led to a top-to-bottom reconsideration of how working people carry out their work and their relationships with their employers. Workers across the business are reevaluating all of the principal considerations of work — pay, benefits, development, well-being, values — to determine if the company and its implicit work contract meet their needs and future plans.
The mounting evidence shows that employers are falling short. Despite the focus on ‘making business more human’ in the years leading up to and during the pandemic, several trends are showing negative results as reported in a cascade of surveys and polls.