068: Mean girls in the work place with Kira Lafond and Denise Thomas

About Kira Lafond & Denise Thomas

Kira Lafond, Market President and publisher of Milwaukee Business Journal, oversees a team of talented professionals who help readers grow their business, advance their careers and simplify their professional lives. Previously, Kira served as Milwaukee Business Journal Director of Advertising for two years. She spent the balance of her 30+ year career in radio sales and management where she led teams of as many as 100. Kira never expected to leave radio, but when the opportunity to lead the Milwaukee Business Journal came up, she jumped at it.

Denise is an active communications consultant, coaching professionals on utilizing effective communication techniques in order to drive advancement in their career and innovation across their business. Her portfolio of corporate clients includes Associated Bank, GE Healthcare, and Northwestern Mutual.


What does this topic mean? (5:00)

Denise: "So I think what is an advantage now as it relates to this conversation, what we can talk about is now that it’s a really good time to be a woman and now that our voice is being heard more how do we have these conversations such as your providing with this platform, to understand not only what it means, but how do we alleviate the mean girl concept  out of the workplace."

Kira: "This may come from the reason that women may be less likely to be supportive of each other is when there’s this feeling of scarcity. Like only one of us is going to be able to sit on that board. Only one of us is going to get the management job. Only one of us is going to get this, so we're not supportive of each other. That may be why women, and I’ve done no studying of this, but that may be why women have really excelled in areas where they are individual like in sales where you can show your stuff on your own."


Have you experienced this? (9:00)

Denise: “You think of this as competition. You don’t want someone to come in and outshine you. So, for me, I participated in the African American leadership program at Cardinal Stritch University and the big takeaway was awareness. So, there’s that potential to come into a room and be perceived as a “Mean Girl,” you can forget that.”

Kira: “I’m thinking back from when I saw the Mean Girls movie. And where that comes from is feeling unsure and being insecure. So, if you can build a relationship with mentors you kind of have a release valve, to share these things. This whole concept is something that happens in middle school to adult life.”


What can we do to elevate each other and resolve this situation in the workplace? (21:00)

Denise: "Have conversations. If you want to hire someone aka the effective communication coach to come and help facilitate those conversations, have it. And make sure the right people are at the table and be prepared to be uncomfortable and be prepared to be candid. But think about all the times where problems were solved, its because the right people were having the right conversation."

Kira: "And that they ask for what they felt was the right thing, for everybody involved. And you have to be clear on that, you have to have those conversations with some clarity and some understanding that everybody is not going to get exactly what they need or exactly what they want."


Is there more to this than simply gender, is it race-infused, ageism? (22:30)

Denise: "When those corporations were established, women, people of color, people across different sexual orientations were not in mind and I think what companies are doing now are taking a step back and looking at their existing as well as sought-after consumer base and understanding that in order for us to truly be the best employer, the best company, that our consumer base needs to be reflected as part of our human resources as well."

Kira: "We talked about that feeling of scarcity, and if you feel that you that you are one of a minority of people in an area whether its female and of a person of color and a person of a different sexual orientation, or whatever that would be, the more you have that, the more scarcity you feel and you feel like only one of you is going to get promoted."


Any final words or advice to offer our listeners with regards to this topic? (32:25)

Kira: "If you feel like you’re being bullied, reach out, and talk to that person. Tell them how you feel, and if it doesn’t work out, look for resources in your company, and if not look for resources outside of your company."

Denise: “Echoing what Kira said, we have one life, and we spend so much of our time working. I think about if we had one car, how would you treat that car, and there are just so many toxic situations that can’t continue to happen.”

Lori: “Self-awareness, putting yourself in another person’s shoes and how would I feel in this situation?”


If anyone is interested in getting in contact with you, what is the best way they can reach you? (34:35)

Kira: email klafond@bizjournals.com  or call me 414 908 0584

Denise: email denise@realcommcoach.com, visit my website or call 414 469 1942