Episode 30: Breaking Through Bias: Communication Techniques for Women to Succeed at Work

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Women start their careers on parity with men but generally end them far earlier, having achieved less status, lower compensation, and less satisfaction than men.

During this episode, we’ll be joined by spouses, Andrea Kramer, and Alton Harris.  Andie is a partner in an international law firm, is a nationally recognized advocate for women’s advancement and an authority on gender communication.  Al was a founding partner of the Chicago law firm of Ungaretti & Harris and has extensive experience watching and evaluating women as they move up the career ladder. 

We dive into their book, Breaking Through Bias: Communication Techniques for Women to Succeed at Work.  Whether you are tenured in your career or a new entrant, you’ll be equipped with a better understanding of the barries and biases along with tools and techniques to move beyond them.  

 

Topics Covered:

03:16 – Andie recounts not following the advice of a lawyer to pursue her childhood dream of becoming a lawyer as well

04:17 – Al recalls having a very successful career and creating the perfect meritocracy in his law firm but realized that there’s still one obstacle they had to focus on.

05:51 – Explaining what perfect meritocracy is and why Al thinks it’s a mythological place

07:21 – Andie shares watching stereotypes in the workplace and finding a way to break that

10:06 – Revealing the most significant surprise they found out while researching data for their book

12:03 – Industries that show a predominance of men advancing their careers over women and those with gender segregation among professionals

16:45 – Andie remembers the underlying premise why the lawyer who advised her not to push studying law said that lady lawyers couldn’t be both successful and happy

19:16 – Explaining further another data point in their research about women who are expected to do more domestic tasks than men

21:37 – Al advises women who have stalled careers

23:17 – Andie mentions the two parts of their book and relates these to driving one’s career, communicating and presenting yourself to others

26:12 – Andie talks about the Goldilocks dilemma

29:33 – Advice to entry level employees in finding the right place to work 

33:14 – The one thing that people don’t know about Al and Andie

33:51 – The advice they would give to their 20-year old selves

35:57 – James recaps his learnings on this interview

 

Key Takeaways: 

 “I think the moral of the story really is you’ve got to go with what you want and if you’re pushed back, you still need to push forward to find your dreams.” – Andrea Kramer

“And so basically the advice that we give to women is to raise your hand.  And don’t be afraid to take on challenges the way that we all grow and learn and can improve in our professional careers.  Our life journey is to take risks.” – Andrea Kramer

“What we try to do is advise women as to how they can talk with their partners. They can find a better way to achieve equality of distribution of domestic chores so that they are not disadvantaged in their career opportunities.” – Alton Harris

“Every person can shape how they interact with other people so that we all have an opportunity to do better if we feel that we’re not accomplishing what we want to accomplish.” – Andrea Kramer

“Regardless of where you go, regardless of what that industry is or what that business is, there is going to be gender bias. There are going to be hurdles that you as a woman are going to encounter that the men don’t. And so, we tried to make clear to those entry-level people what those hurdles are, what the obstacles are going to be, and to prepare them to overcome them or avoid them.” – Alton Harris

“Failure is not a failure. Failure is a learning experience. And if it’s the wrong place, and it isn’t the right opportunity, then don’t view it as a death sentence, figure out how to move on.” – Andrea Kramer

 

Resources Mentioned

 

Connect with Andrea Kramer

 

Connect with Alton Harris

 

Connect with James Rosseau Sr.

 

Full Biography of Andrea Kramer and Alton Harris

Andie is a partner in an international law firm, which was just listed as one of the “10 Best Big Law Firms for Female Attorneys.”  Andie’s extensive research, astute observations, and pragmatic voice have made her a nationally recognized advocate for women’s advancement and an authority on gender communication.  Among her many recognitions, Andie was named one of the 50 Most Influential Women Lawyers in America by the National Law Journal for her “demonstrated power to change the legal landscape, shape public affairs, launch industries, and do big things.”

Al was a founding partner of the Chicago law firm of Ungaretti & Harris where he served for many years as Managing Partner and then as a member of the Executive and Compensation Committees. In these roles, he had extensive experience watching and evaluating women as they move up the career ladder.  Over the course of his career, Al has grown increasingly concerned about the barriers and biases women face in traditionally male career environments. Because of this concern, Al has mentored and advised women in many career fields.

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