November 2016 Business Meeting Round-Up

CALL held its second business meeting of the 2016-17 year at Rock Bottom Brewery, 1 West Grand Avenue, on November 17, 2016. There were 100 registered attendees. President Todd Ito called the meeting to order at noon and welcomed new CALL members:

  • Clare Carlson (Locke Lord)
  • Jenna Case (Latham & Watkins)
  • Edison Ellenberger (Jones Day)
  • Laurie Holmes (Locke Lord)

President’s Announcements

Slate of Candidates and Upcoming Election

President Todd Ito announced the slate of candidates for the 2017-18 CALL Board. Elections will open in February. More details will be provided to the membership prior to that.

Vice President/President-Elect:

  • Joe Mitzenmacher
  • Debbie Rusin

Secretary:

  • Annie Mentkowski
  • Lucy Robbins

Director:

  • Carolyn Hersch
  • Scott Vanderlin

Meeting Sponsor

Vice President Clare Willis welcomed and thanked our meeting’s sponsor, Bloomberg BNA for their generous support and introduced their representative, Adam Sidoti.

Adam spoke on how Bloomberg’s Client Success team is dedicated to helping us work with our users to change the “inertia of habit” (as one client described the problem). Bloomberg focuses strongly on the business of law—and knows that while law library budgets may be lean, that we consider Bloomberg for more than just a case law resource but as a tool for business development and knowledge management which broadens its value to the firm.

Meeting Speakers: Andrea S. Kramer (McDermott Will and Emery LLP) and Alton Harris (Nixon Peabody LLP)

Clare introduced the speakers for today’s meeting. Andrea Kramer is a partner in the Chicago office of McDermott Will and Emery with a practice that focuses on all aspects of financial transactions and derivatives. She is a founding member of McDermott Will and Emery’s Diversity Committee and co-chair of the Gender Diversity Subcommittee. Ms. Kramer is also an adjunct professor at Northwestern University School of Law, teaching on taxation of financial derivatives. Alton Harris is a partner in the Chicago office of Nixon Peabody and focuses his practice in the areas of financial markets, financial regulation, and corporate governance. Mr. Harris also lectures on these topics as an adjunct professor at Northwestern University School of Law and in the Graduate Program in Financial Services at Chicago-Kent College of Law. In 2016, Ms. Kramer and Mr. Harris co-authored a book titled Breaking Through Bias: Communication Techniques for Women to Succeed at Work. That book and the topics covered therein are the subject of today’s presentation.

Ms. Kramer began the presentation with why they wrote this book. When she first joined the Compensation Committee at McDermott, she realized that when reviewing self-evaluation surveys that attorneys were required to complete, that women and men provided very different answers. Men would focus on their individual successes. Women would focus on their team efforts. Clearly, and perhaps sadly, the men’s strategy was more successful in generating higher compensation and advancement. So she began thinking about how women could work differently and view themselves differently in order to advance their careers. She began this work by focusing on female attorneys, but has expanded this project to all female professionals—including librarians.

Ms. Kramer determined that a key difference was the communication style employed by men and women, and that the communication style we choose is taught from a young age along gender lines. Those stereotypes, which are learned and accepted at such young ages, set patterns of behavior that continue throughout our adult lives. We learn very early what acceptable behavior is for men and women, and what is not.

At this point Mr. Harris joined her in this endeavor—and addressed the audience on how he began working with Ms. Kramer. They worked together at Ungaretti & Harris, where Ms. Kramer grew the tax department from 1 attorney to 7 during her 15 years there. He always considered the firm to be a great opportunity for women and absent of any gender bias. But as the firm grew to 40 attorneys over the years he began to realize that women at the firm were not rising to the rank of equity partnership in the same numbers and at the same speed as the men. He wondered why that was. It was at this point that Ms. Kramer reached out to him to collaborate on the book.

They set out to find organizations and/or departments in which gender bias appeared to have some effect on performance or the perception of performance, which in turn impacted advancement. They focused specifically on unconscious gender bias.

Ms. Kramer and Mr. Harris spoke about how the conversation style and even physical postures men and women adopt differ. Those differences can have an effect on success in the workplace.

Ms. Kramer discussed three attitudes we need to adopt to be successful in interaction and conversations. Those attitudes are grit, a positive mindset, and self-confidence.

Ms. Kramer and Mr. Harris also discussed the different stereotypes that are applied to men and women. Society teaches women to be kind, pleasant, caring, modest, helpful, and very likeable. Men are supposed to be action-oriented, independent, forceful, strong, confident, and are seen as generally good at getting things done. Social scientists group the stereotypical female characteristics under the category of relationship-driven or communal. The male stereotypes are grouped as task-driven. Leaders are affiliated with task-driven stereotypes typically associated with men.

So for women to succeed, the speakers argued, they are forced to adopt the male stereotypes. But often when women do just that and become action-oriented, independent, forceful, strong, and confident they are seen as bossy, unlikeable, untrustworthy, or selfish.

Ms. Kramer referred to this as the Goldilocks dilemma. If you’re too nice, others like working with you but don’t see the need to promote you. If you’re too focused on leading, you may be seen as too aggressive and others don’t want to work with you or let you advance.

Men face similar challenges in fitting into stereotypes. If they want to be more relationship-driven they may be viewed as not masculine.

Their book addresses how to have successful conversations in light of these challenges. They provide advice, techniques, and social evidence to support their theories of success through interactions in the workplace. Women have to find a balance in their communication style—to not give up their strengths in exchange for “male stereotypes”—but to understand how to incorporate how they are perceived and to change that dynamic through thoughtful conversation.

CALL Member Questions

Question: If a woman has more education and experience do people look down on her because of that?

Answer: Mr. Harris said he wasn’t sure that women are always looked down on for those reasons, but do men get ahead with less education? Absolutely. They’re seeing that women excel on average more in school because the criteria that students are judged on are largely objective, but when you move into the working field the judgments are overwhelmingly subjective.

Question: In personnel reviews where women note that they value teamwork more and men value individual accomplishments more, is there social science showing which is more valuable to the advancement of an organization?

Answer: In the context of a self-evaluation, unless you’re being asked specifically about your team, you should be talking about yourself—women don’t. Some companies are moving to dual evaluations—the individual as a contributor and as a member of a team. Women often hold the same opinions about women that men do because both women and men grow up hearing and learning the same stereotypes. They’re not suggesting that self-evaluations are all about ego trips—but that you learn how to phrase things in a way that gives you the credit you deserve.

Question: Does their book address how these issues exist in the U.S. as compared to the rest of the world?

Answer: Ms. Kramer stated that they do mention this occasionally, but it is not a focus of the book. Mr. Harris noted that in Norway there is a percentage requirement for females in board memberships. But despite that requirement, women aren’t advancing in the ranks at any higher rate.

Question: What should men do to help?

Answer: First thing, Mr. Harris said, is to “get it.” National surveys show that only 13% of men think there is a gender bias problem, while 90% of women see this as a problem. So the first thing is to educate men that this is a serious issue. One of the reasons they wanted to write this book together—a man and a woman—is that the field of writing in this area is overwhelmingly by female authors. Second, men need to approach women to discuss this problem. Third, the men need to change their actions—taking women to lunch, inviting to out of work social situations, and to participate in projects. If they’re doing these things only with men, then they’re doing something wrong.

Todd thanked the speakers for a very thought-provoking and informative talk.

Committee Announcements

Jessie LeMar, Placement and Recruitment Committee

Jessie reminded the membership of the CALL initiative to find mentors for “day in the life” shadowing opportunities for student or prospective law librarians. While a lot of volunteers have stepped forward from academic and court libraries, there is still a need for volunteers from law firm libraries. If interested, please email her or anyone else on the committee.

Philip Johnson, co-editor of the CALL Bulletin

The committee is looking to add an additional member to the team to do light editing work. Also, keep in mind that the 70th Anniversary Issue will be published in 2017—start thinking about articles that might be of interest.

Pat Sayre-McCoy, Grants and Chapter Awards Committee

On behalf of the committee Pat reminded the membership that grants are not just for attending the AALL Annual Meeting. Any education opportunities will be considered. The committee will email a list of opportunities to the CALL listserv on a monthly basis.

Robert Martin, Community Service Committee

At the September business meeting $235 was collected for donation to the Rolfe Pancreatic Cancer Foundation and a great collection of school supplies were donated by our members for the Chicago Public Schools’ Back to School Campaign. Today’s in-kind donations of art supplies will be donated to Help Hospitalized Veterans. Cash donations will be given to the Wounded Warriors Project. At the February meeting both cash and in-kind donations will be given to the Greater Chicago Food Depository. If you have ideas for donation recipients for the May Business Meeting please contact the committee.

Eugene Giudice, Meetings Committee

The February Business Meeting will be held at Wildfire. Please take time to fill out the brief post-meeting survey especially in regards to the travel question in terms of how far can you travel for a business meeting. Members have requested locations closer to the Loop, but that can often increase the cost.

Door Prize Drawing

The speakers donated two copies of their book for door prizes. The winners were Eugene Giudice and Sarah Andeen.

Todd and Clare thanked LexisNexis for providing the gift card door prizes at today’s meeting. The winners were Jamie Sommer and Jennifer Kirche.

Adjournment and Next Meeting

Todd adjourned the meeting and reminded the membership that the next business meeting will be held on February 14th at Wildfire.

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