An activity and an impact

Just two of the many great reasons to talk politics at work.

What a gleeful little week we’ve had, as people who’ve created a space specifically to talk about politics and work at the same time. Basecamp’s founders, two white men in possession of many fortunes, decided to share a preemptively defensive open letter banning talk of politics at work, doing away with wellness benefits and ending the practice of committee feedback. It did not go well! And if you’re wondering whether the whole debacle was really a sneaky way to force staff to take buyouts without mentioning layoffs, well, it worked!

The schadenfreude is that much sweeter knowing the history of these two particular pals, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. They started the Chicago-based software firm 37Signals, then quickly realized “Wow, we are the best bois at doing business!” The company switched to selling Basecamp, a project management software meant to help other companies run more like 37Signals, and Jason Fried went on to become — our favorite — a thought leader on how to manage people. Despite only ever writing about his hyperspecific and limited experience managing one (1) team, his musings were treated as universal sage wisdom and without a doubt influenced at least one initiative your HR team has tried on you in the last 10 years. 

Also, David Heinemeier Hansson is a racecar driver, which isn’t strictly relevant but feels important to mention. 

We could continue but once you pull out the Guy Fieri GIF, it’s just punching down. 

Medline — maker of the tiny baby blanket all newborns get, as well as other medical supplies — has been on its way up this pandemic, and now might be ready to cash out. Several private equity firms are looking to group together and gobble the company up for as much as $30 billion. As always, where private equity goes, worker rights tend to leave. That’s a warning to anyone considering a job there, or with Tribune Publishing Co. Despite other frantic offers and millions in earnings that make it an attractive acquisition target, the newspaper group seems insistent on selling to private equity firm Alden Capital, known for gutting newsrooms.

Y’all it’s hard to put this letter together as it is. We can’t afford to lose any more business journalists. They tell us things like this little biotech startup raising $4 million from big names like Joe Mansueto and Michael Polsky. Grove Biopharma makes synthetic proteins to help with drug development, and while we understand precious little of that, we do know it’s one of several promising healthcare startups coming out of local universities. 

Even as businesses “struggle” to fill jobs (i.e., refuse to pay enough to attract talent), unemployment has stayed persistently high in Black and brown communities on the South and West sides. Good, then, that Target is planning to open a distribution center in Little Village with 2,000 jobs starting at $18 an hour. Bad, however, that developer Hilco got $19.7 million in subsidies to build the new distribution center, demolishing a coal plant on the site and covering the neighborhood in smoky debris in the middle of a respiratory pandemic in the process. The state did make the company pay back a whole 1.9% of it by way of a $370,000 fine though.

Maybe that environmental impact can be offset in part by the new electric vehicle plant in Joliet. Canadian electric bus maker Lion plans to hire more than 700 people to produce electric buses and trucks. 

TikTok is also adding jobs in Chicago, up to 150 of them in sales, marketing and customer support in a new West Loop office. This will no doubt be music to the ears of suburban companies opening West Loop offices to attract that hot young talent. Like investment firm Calamos, which is planning an office big enough for 100 employees

Jobs, Glorious Jobs
Creative Director at Farmer’s Fridge
Normally wouldn’t point you to jobs rooted in office vending machines, but the homegrown salad-in-a-jar company made quite the pandemic pivot to home delivery, Target and Dunkin’ Donuts — raising tens of millions along the way. 

Senior Manager of Social Media at the Chicago Fire FC
Chicago’s MLS team has a lot going for it: a billionaire owner, matches finally moving from south-suburban Brookfield to Soldier Field and a new logo TBD. There's a lot for you to work with while the Fire sits at the bottom of the conference.

VP Creative & Editorial at Ulta
Oh dream job, why must you be in Bolingbrook? But if you, on the other hand, are willing and able, please apply and put us out of our misery.

Inspiration of the week

“I think we’ve fetishized the idea that your job should be your passion. It’s OK for your job to just be a job .… 

From my perspective, a calling isn’t a job or an industry. It’s an activity or an impact.”

—Career coach Phoebe Gavin reflecting on leaving journalism for a different line of work. This is one in a series of “exit interviews” from OpenNews, all of which we’ve enjoyed and all of which give you a peek at the thoughtful, not-white-dude talent leaving journalism. 

While Gavin’s experience is specific to journalism, her advice against seeing your job as a “calling” applies to all of us. It only serves to give power to employers that are “perfectly happy to chew us up, spit us out, and put up a new job listing the following week.”

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