Insights (Blog) - Diversity & Flexibility Alliance

Spotlight on Flex – Teresa Reuter

Our Spotlight on Flex showcases professionals from member organizations who exemplify personal and professional success while working a flexible schedule. Their stories illustrate the long-term benefits that flexible schedules offer to both individuals and organizations.

For May 2019, we are pleased to share insights from Teresa Reuter, Associate, Sidley Austin LLP (Chicago, IL)

Diversity & Flexibility Alliance: How have you made flexibility a priority and a success with your career? How has the firm supported this?

TR: After graduating from law school in 2009, I clerked for a year in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia and then joined a large law firm in Atlanta. In 2013 my husband’s job took us to the Midwest at which point I joined Sidley as a lateral in its Chicago office. I worked full time until I came back from maternity leave in April 2017. Since then, I’ve been working a 90% reduced hours schedule.

With the addition to our family, I knew I needed to make adjustments to my schedule. I wanted to be fully engaged with work and also have some “give” with my hours to adjust to life with our newborn and a husband who travels for work. My reduced hours gives me that balance. Sidley guaranteed me the option to work a reduced hours schedule upon returning from leave, but I still was nervous to ask for it. Without any hesitation, my practice group leader and Sidley fully supported my request, and I’ve been working reduced hours ever since. I come into the office every day, and I have the flexibility to take care of work and personal matters as they’re scheduled or occur. With my reduced hours, I adjust my schedule to the changing demands of life. For instance, ever since transitioning my son to a daycare, I leave at 5 pm a few days a week to pick him up.

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Action Step –
Communication is Key: Spread the Word About Your Leave Policies & Resources

The Alliance’s Action Steps are designed to assist organizations with implementing practical strategies and policies related to diversity and flexibility. Members can access full versions of all of the Alliance’s Action Steps in the Member Resource Center.

Organizations are expanding parental leave policies and offering additional resources for new parents. A common challenge, however, is the utilization of the expanded policies. Similarly, employees and new hires often comment about their lack of knowledge of the parental leave policies and resources available to them. Even though more organizations are starting to pay closer attention to their parental leave policies, it’s equally important how they are communicated and publicized. By using our multi-step “EMAIL” communication strategy, you can increase recruiting and retention by highlighting your parental leave policies and resources.

EDUCATE YOUR LEADERS: Leaders at the organizational, office, and practice group levels should be familiar and aware of parental leave policies; this can be done through new leader training and orientation. Enlist champions among your leaders who will host office/organizational meetings that specifically communicate parental leave policies to employees. Not only does this help with communication efforts, it also increases utilization and reduces bias.

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