Episode 62: Claiming credit

I think many women feel this, that it is through your relationships with different people in your company that you make things happen, but you just don’t get the credit.
— Mary Kopczynski
This is not about promoting lesser qualified women over more qualified men...this is about seeing that when we put a team together...the quality of the work done will be better if it’s diverse.
— Curt Rice

Mary Kopczynski

In this show we hear from four familiar guests, using parts of our conversation you've never heard before.

Lauren Tucker is co-founder and CEO of Cooler Heads Intelligence, although when I spoke to her she was the head of a tech division at an ad agency. She talks candidly about race and whether bosses ever see your full potential at work. Mary Kopczynski of 8of9 Consulting says women have to claim credit for their work or others won't notice their achievements. Curt Rice of the University of Tromsø talks about what it's like being a man advocating loudly for women in the workplace. And Financial Times journalist Simon Kuper reminds us it's not just women who make career sacrifices for their families.

I'm pleased to say this week's show is sponsored by Doodle.

Doodle is an online scheduling tool that takes the pain out of arranging meetings with one or more people (no more email strings!). The basic level is totally free. Check it out at Doodle.com.

Further reading: Here's the Curt Rice post, 'Men Need Not Apply', that had some male readers up in arms.

Curt talked about research indicating a team gets better results when there's a mix of genders on it. Here's a Harvard Business Review piece on that.

And here's Lauren Tucker's post on some of her work experiences: Beyond the Cracked Ceiling. Into the Hall of Mirrors.


Welcome to The Broad Experience, the show about women, the workplace, and success. I’m Ashley Milne-Tyte.

Almost every time I do an interview for this show I am left with a lot of good stuff that – in the interests of keeping the podcast focused – ends up not being included. For a long time I’ve wanted to re-revisit some of those interviews. So this time I’m bringing you a show with guests you may be familiar with, using parts of our conversation you haven’t heard.

One of the things we touch on today is how to make sure your work is recognized…

“I will spend almost the same amount of time letting different people know what has been successfully completed because otherwise people don’t notice.”

And what’s it like being a man who advocates strongly and publicly for women in the workplace? 

“It is true that men, especially white men, get upset by this, and that is the sound of people losing privilege, and I understand that must be frustrating.”

Coming up, two women and two men on some of the micro and macro issues around women and work.

First though, this episode of The Broad Experience is brought to you by Doodle. Doodle is an online scheduling tool that makes it easy to schedule a meeting with one or more people – and as you know that can get incredible time-consuming over email. I use Doodle myself, and I’m going to tell you more about it a bit later in the show.

One of the most popular shows last year was number 47: Authenticity vs. Conformity. My second guest was advertising executive Lauren Tucker. Lauren was wonderfully candid about her experiences at work over the years – including what it means to be a black woman in a very white industry.

You may remember the part of the show where she talked about a client using the N word down the phone – not about her (he probably didn’t even know she was black) but about the group of people they were advertising to. She says that was just the most egregious example she could remember. She says there was a time after that when her job was to buy advertising spots on news shows…

“…and one of the sales guys who had never met me but we were talking on the phone and he insisted that black people don’t watch the news. And I had to decide do I take the high road or the low road here and I decided to take the high road and I said, well, I have to tell you, I’m black and my family’s black and I have to tell you they watch the news. At which time, he said, are you you’re going to be in your office in the next fifteen minutes? And I said yes. And in five minutes I had a dozen roses on my desk and in ten minutes he was sitting across from me apologizing. So yeah, these things happen, and I have to say that I am probably one of the few...most of the friends of mine who are African-American, especially African-American females who started in the business together, very few of them are still in this industry.”

She’s been in advertising herself for 30 years now, but she says like a lot of other industries it doesn’t necessarily value everything a person’s capable of.  She’s had this problem at work herself – feeling like her bosses have put her in a certain box in their heads…

“I’ve seen a lot of folks find themselves running out of runway at their places of work, not because there isn’t room to grow but because the perceptions of their growth trajectory by management is completely different than that person whose ambition says I want to apply what I’ve learned in a slightly different way. I think it’s interesting you mentioned earlier about the women who is focusing on talent.”

I’d talked about Sylvia Ann Hewlett of the Center for Talent Innovation. She ended up appearing in the finished show along with Lauren…

“…and its funny, a lot of people call me up and say read this book, look at this thing or I’m going to this conference about talent. And it’s funny, I’ve seen a lot of people talk the talk, but I haven’t seen so many of these folks walk the walk.  These very same people who have a lot to say about talent and seeking out the best talent, when it comes to actual execution I’m not so sure they’re getting it.”

She mentors young people, and she told me she’s not even sure what she’d tell a young black woman today about how to cope with discrimination because times have changed so much since she first started out. But she does say you’ve got to be flexible in responding to the thoughtless or downright awful things other people come out with from time to time. She says it’s best to assume a benign intent rather than a horrible one.

Still she admits it frustrates her that people at her office have told her she can come off as intimidating…

“Yes, I am an articulate, educated black woman. You can call it what you will, but I spend a lot of time studying and learning so I can speak with some intelligence and articulate myself in a way I believe I can be understood. That in and of itself tends to come off as threatening. Would that come off as threatening if I were a white male? I don't think so. It would come off as expected and authoritative. So as my brother says, there’s nothing you can do about the accident of your birth.”

Lauren Tucker.

One of the other popular topics we tackled last year was what I called the hell of networking. That was episode 40. One of my guests was Mary Kopczynski, CEO of 8 of 9 Consulting. It does regulatory change management. She’s a master networker - she makes it look easy. But I argued there are times when you want to network with someone you can’t imagine will want to network with you…

AM-T: “There are hierarchies sometimes with the people you meet. In other words you may want something from that person but you think, how on earth could I help him because I’m so lowly and he or she is so high up. That is a bit tricky isn’t it?”

“Yeah. A lot of my networking is never through my own mouth…sometimes when I ask for something so to speak, it’s not asking someone directly for a job, it’s asking someone to persuade someone else of the need of something. And it doesn’t have to be linked to me…so I’m more focused on the end result, that I get what I needed to make happen, happen…it doesn’t need to be me the glorious person who saves things. But it is absolutely – on many occasions, and I think many women feel this too, that it is through your relationships with different people in your company that you make things happen at your company but you just don’t get the credit. It’s a bad habit. I do think it’s a critical skill for all people to be able to not only get something done but to be clear it was because of you…and I think women could be a lot better at stating the value of what they provide.”

AM-T: Also then tell me how you do that.

“I’m terrible. It’s funny, I worked with this one guy and I’d joke that that he’d get 15 minutes of work done…and then spend the rest of the 7 hours 45 minutes of the day talking about how great he was at doing those 15 minutes of work. In reality I’m probably a 50/50 balance. I’ll spend almost the same amount of time letting different people know what has been successfully completed – and maybe I don’t always link it to myself but I am very public about saying this is solved, this is done, because otherwise people don’t notice and they don’t pay attention.”

She also believes it’s important to give compliments when they’re deserved – and not just for employees’ morale…

“It just lends itself to people cheering you on. They want you to keep doing what you do because they want you to make them feel better. So I definitely think people underestimate how important it is to let people know that you’re doing a good job and so are they.”

Now before Mary got into finance she spent years raising money for non-profits. So when she became CEO of her own business she had to get over something: her uncomfortable feelings about money. She kept telling herself she wasn’t really doing financial services. And then she had to face the fact – yes, she was. So she split her brand. She now has a division that’s a think-tank – it concentrates on how to use modern financial technology to finance social change.

“…and that’s where everything started making sense for me. That here I’ve always thought, ooh, money, yuk, that’s for greedy people…I had to learn to love it and bring it in and want it so that we can re-purpose it and use it in a way that’s gong to make a positive social change. Since making that decision we’ve quadrupled every single quarter. I am having more of a demand issue than a supply issue. So the demand is out there and I’m just like scrambling to hire the right team members…to help solve all these problems and get them up to speed.”

AM-T: “It’s interesting, because you said you’d had to hire someone to be a bad cop because you’d say yes to everything.”

“Absolutely. And she is a very good bad cop. And to her credit, she has 3 children and works part-time. And she is running this company like I could not even tell you, without her – she’s the pants in the family of 8 of 9. Do not underestimate, ladies, how productive you can be in a single hour with focus. I can’t even say enough how amazing it is to have a really strong woman supporting me.”

That woman is Tamar Mar – and most of the time she does her job from the opposite side of the country.

Talking of being organized, the sponsor of today’s show is Doodle. 

You know how frustrating and time-consuming it can be to try and schedule a meeting with a group of people – those endless emails that go back and forth? Doodle is an online scheduling tool that takes the hassle out of arranging meetings. All you have to do is get the participants to select possible dates and times and see what works for them. That way you can reach a final decision that satisfies the whole group – or most of them anyway.

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Now we go from women to men. And from micro to macro.

Curt Rice is anprofessor at the University of Tromsø in Norway. He’s lived and worked in Norway for most of his adult life and he’s an outspoken advocate for women in the workplace, particularly women in academia. He appeared in show 49, The Pace of Progress. I asked him what’s it like being a man in his position – how do other men feel about his views?

AM-T: "I mean the reason I ask that question of course is that I do see that so often is that I do see this all the time, in online comments under articles, these guys who say it’s men who have the problems these days and women are all graduating from universities at higher rates, they just can’t stand the idea of women getting ‘special treatment’, and there are women who believe in this too, these women who are just, pull your socks up, everyone’s an individual, everyone can do it on their own. I just wonder how much of that you encounter and how you cope with it?"

 “Right, well it is true that men especially white man get upset by this and that is the sound of people losing privilege, and I understand that must be frustrating. Indeed the only possible explanation for situ in which 80 and 90 percent of the people in leadership positions have been men is that we have a quota system. It just hasn’t been necessary to codify it because it’s functioned so well on its own. Now that we’re trying to counter that we do need to codify some things, we do need to do interventions. So what we’re working on now is not undermining fairness we’re working on the pursuit of fairness."

So what happens he talks about this stuff?

“I get a wide variety of reactions. When I’m writing about this topic on the internet I get strongly positive and strongly negative reactions. I recently wrote about a quota program at a university in the Netherlands where they announced 10 positions that were earmarked for women. And men just went completely crazy about this kind of thing. But the problem was they’d tried all sorts of other measures to recruit women and they weren’t succeeding and they value diversity and society also recruit women into technical fields, and so they took that measure.”

And you can read that post – and the comments he received – I’m posting it under this episode  at The Broad Experience dot com. In show 49 Curt also talked about a really interesting experiment his university did to get more women into higher positions – it worked, and he says they haven’t looked back.

“Gender balance in the workplace at my university is now normal and deviating from it is almost unthinkable…so when we put together a group of people for any situation, a committee or a team for any situation it is completely inconceivable that it should be anything but gender balanced. When we hire the deans of our faculties we want that group to be gender-balanced. And again this is not about promoting lesser qualified women over more qualified men. This is about seeing we have many, many people who are well qualified and acknowledging that when we put a team together the quality of the work done by that team will be better if it’s diverse.”

Which, he says, it is.

He’s pretty hopeful about the future for women in the workplace.

“One of the hopes that I have is related to what I think I see in young men. I think young men want to be engaged fathers. They want to be able to stay home with their children. Even in a relatively conservative country in Europe like the Netherlands men often stay home one day a week when they have young children. So I think that there are some changes coming about in the parenting styles of men that are going to have an impact on what goes on at work and make it more possible and more normal to have a wider variety of positions at work.”

Now Simon Kuper wouldn’t describe himself as young exactly – he’s in his forties – but he certainly spends a lot of time with his three kids. You heard him first in episode 32, Home As Career-Killer. And as we’re at the end of this episode I wanted to go micro again. I put forward to Simon the idea that when a woman leaves work early for something like taking a child to the doctor or attending a school event everyone looks on her as a workplace slacker – a mum rather than a dedicated worker. Whereas a guy tends to be looked on as a superstar dad when he does the same thing. Simon lives in Paris with his family. And he isn’t so sure that’s true.

“I don’t know, I mean, of course I accept the fact there’s sexism and gender imbalance, all those things you say, I’m not disputing. I do think that in – thinking about my peer group, the men and the women who are mostly exhausted parents who are trying to do a job as well, I don’t think they’d say the man who does it is a hero and the woman who leaves work early to bring her children to the doctor is a loser. I really don’t see those extreme positions at all. And in fact I wrote something else recently about my male friends are not giving up their careers, but they’re not really pursuing their careers because they’re making sacrifices for their children. So they’re not at home being house-husbands but there are places they won’t move to, there are jobs they won’t take. I mean a friend of mine who’s a fundraiser, a consultant fundraiser for universities, he said, I could be head fundraiser for a big British university. He has the CV to get that. And he said I’d never be home. So essentially he can’t do it, he can’t take that job. And most of my male friends will not take a lot of jobs just because it’s not compatible with having kids and a family. So I’m not really arguing about America because I know that less well, but what I see in Britain and in France is that men and women are both making quite a lot of career sacrifices and I don’t find that they get derided as losers. And I fact I think people look askance at men who do work 70 hours a week and don’t see their kids.”

I think that’s probably more true in Europe than it is in the workaholic US.

That’s The Broad Experience for this time. I’ll be posting some show notes under this episode at The Broad Experience.com. And don’t forget to go to Doodle.com and start making meeting planning – or even dinner party planning - a lot easier. Please support the companies that support The Broad Experience.

And thanks again to all of you who support the show with monthly donations or one-off donations. I really appreciate it.

I’m Ashley Milne-Tyte. Thanks for listening.