Insights (Blog) - Diversity & Flexibility Alliance

We’re Part of Your Team

With the New Year just six weeks away, you’re undoubtedly beginning to make your plans for 2018 and developing a strategy for the advancement of your diversity and flexibility initiatives. As you begin to map out your plans, we hope you’ll remember that you have the Alliance to turn to for support. Consider us part of your team. Whether you’re a Diversity & Inclusion professional with increased responsibilities and a decreasing budget, or a human resources executive tasked with bias training, we can help. We can serve as your trusted advisor and, if you’re a member, we encourage you to schedule your Strategic Planning Session soon.

Maybe you’d like to see more women in leadership or you’re wondering why so few professionals are using your flex policy. Our Policy Reviews are one of our most popular Member Benefits and we can help you to identify what’s working and what’s not. If you’ve participated in our Law Firm Benchmarking Study in the past, make sure you make some time to review where your firm stands in comparison to your competitors and where you can improve.

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Diversity & Flexibility Alliance Report Finds Slight Increase in Women Among Law Partner Classes

 

Increased Focus on Recruiting, Training,

Supporting and Advancing Women Is Critical

 

 Washington, DC – November 9, 2017 — The Diversity & Flexibility Alliance announced today that the percentage of women promoted to partnership in 2017 in the U.S. Offices of many of the nation’s largest and top-grossing law firms has reached a six-year high of 38.1 percent. The Alliance’s sixth-annual New Partner Report reveals that this year there was an increase of five percentage points since 2012 and one percentage point since 2016. This year also marks the largest share of firms (32.3%) with new partner classes consisting of at least 50 percent women.

The report emphasizes, however, that this increase is minor and law firms must take steps now to develop more young women attorneys and monitor the pipeline to make sure that women have access to the same training and opportunities to advance their careers as men.

“While we are optimistic that these results show that the industry is moving in the right direction when it comes to gender parity, the increase is too slow and firms must prepare for the future now if they want to remain competitive,” said Manar Morales, President and CEO of the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance. “It’s time that firms evolve with the times, understand the advantages of gender parity at the partner level, and take the steps necessary to retain and promote top female talent,” she added.

The Alliance recommends that law firms focus on:

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Spotlight on Flex – Wendy Sugg

The 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.

This month, we are pleased to share insights from Wendy Sugg, Counsel, Troutman Sanders (Orange County, CA).

Wendy SuggDiversity & Flexibility Alliance: How have you made flexibility a priority and a success through your schedule?

Wendy Sugg: I started working for a firm in New York, followed by a two-year clerkship for the Southern District of NY. There wasn’t a lot of flexibility in my schedule while in New York, but it was great training. I always knew I would come back to California – the idea of having to rent a car to get out of town was insane to me! I moved back here in 2003 and was a litigator at my first California firm for eight years. While there, I started doing a lot of employment litigation, and as I became more senior, I started thinking about specializing. It was a natural fit to stick with employment matters. I started looking for a full-service firm where I could continue to specialize, build a book of business, and have other departments to help with that too.

I found another firm that checked these boxes, and a year and a half later, I had my son. At the time, he had weekly medical appointments, and I wanted one day a week off in order to accommodate his needs and focus on his care. It was a great arrangement with my previous firm, and I started to build a good network and book of business. I was formally on a 75 percent, reduced hours schedule and came into the office four days a week.

I came to Troutman Sanders three years ago; they had no employment litigators or employment practice on the West Coast. It was another great opportunity to build my expertise and practice here. I was clear during the interview process that I wanted to continue working at a reduced hours schedule (now at 80 percent) because my son had just turned two, and we were still taking care of his medical needs. I felt comfortable asking for flexibility right from the start because it was what I needed. The firm had no issues with this, matched my salary, and brought me on as a direct lateral hire. In other words, instead of focusing on my schedule, we focused on developing a business and marketing plan. There wasn’t an employment attorney on board yet, and the firm had immediate business needs such as counseling clients and their employees during transition periods (such as post-merger or acquisitions).

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