In the book The Orange Line, which Jodi co-authored with Michelle Waters and Kelly Watson, she calls on women to shed their guilt and live and work smarter. The Orange Line is an alternative to the Green Line path, on which women devote themselves to work, abandoning their own needs and exhausting themselves in the process, and the Red Line path, on which women opt out of their career due to burnout or in order to care for others. The book promises to guide readers to the Orange Line path, on which women do not need to choose between work and life, and instead enjoy both, fully.
Below is my interview with Jodi, who, in addition to being an electrifying speaker, is a co-founder of Orange Grove Consulting, and an instructor, director of MBA Programs and associate director of the Center for Innovative Collaboration at Suffolk University.
What made you write a book about women integrating career and family?
For years I was frustrated because I couldn’t understand why the numbers of women in senior leadership weren’t going up. I was also frustrated at how little had changed in how easy it was to integrate career and family. Why were women doing so much of the work? Why was it so hard? Why was there so little support? We couldn’t find the levers so we decided to ask women themselves. We started interviewing women and it led to us talking to 118 women.
What struck you the most in talking to women you interviewed for the book?
Many things struck me. First, how unplanned many women’s careers were. Many of them didn’t think about their careers as long term but more like a particular decision to make at a particular time. As a result, many of these women were subject to others decisions rather than making a decision for themselves. The second thing that struck me was how many women were actually integrating career and family quite successfully and yet didn’t realize that they were. They were trying to live up to the societal-induced perfect mother vision instead of realizing that they had built a life that they enjoyed. One that had components of many aspects - including career. The third thing that made me sad was how many of our interviewees had periods of their life when they had such low self-esteem where they didn’t think they deserved to have a career they loved. In fact, across a large segment of our interviewees, women didn’t realize that career was something that they could own with pride.
What advice would you give to a woman who just became pregnant and is wondering about her boss's reaction to the news?
Make no long term decisions. If you want to keep career as an important part (notice that I said part) of your life, tell your manager. Tell your manager also that you and your spouse will be sharing the responsibility – it won’t be just you. I would also read our book! :-)
What has your own career journey been like?
My career has been a zig zag – similar to what most of our interviewees experienced. But I have been planful throughout. I started as a programmer/analyst out of college. I worked in Europe for 5 years in that capacity as well. Went back to grad school and had a baby in the process. But I knew I wanted to keep working so I did a lot of consulting and then started teaching. I built up my consulting business and the teaching simultaneously. Now I teach full-time, am the Suffolk University MBA program director, and have my own consulting firm called Orange Grove Consulting that focuses on helping organizations hire, retain, and promote more women. I do research in this area as well. I love to work. Career is very important to me. I have two sons, 16 and 19 and a husband. I love the whole thing – I love being a mom, having an impactful career that I enjoy, having a life where I do other things – the whole thing. I couldn’t imagine giving up any part of it. Why should I?
What are your next steps?
I’m focused on a couple of things (beyond teaching): we are doing research on men right now and seeing the bias from the other side. Initial finding: it traps men as well. We are also creating an e-learning series of our workshops through some partnerships we have. We are also focused on building our business through companies.