Insights (Blog) - Diversity & Flexibility Alliance

Spotlight on Flex – Molly Senger

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 January 2019, we are pleased to share insights from Molly Senger, Of Counsel, Gibson Dunn (Washington, DC).

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

Molly Senger: I came to Gibson Dunn in 2011 as a third year associate after I completed a clerkship with the Honorable John D. Bates at the US District Court for the District of Columbia. I started full time, but after I had my son in January 2016, I came back from maternity leave to a 70% reduced hours schedule. The only formalized aspect of my flex schedule is my reduced hours target; what I’ve learned is you have to be flexible with your time and each day is different. I’m generally in the office every day, but my hours vary depending on what’s happening in the matters I’m working on at the time. I’ve had months in which I’ve had an arbitration and far exceeded full-time hours. But I’ve also had months in which my matters have been relatively quiet, and I’ve been able to take advantage of my flex schedule.

One thing I try to keep in mind with my flex schedule is something one of my mentors told me; “it’s unlikely you’ll find a perfect balance every day, but if you strive for it, you can find the balance you want over the long-term.” Once I started working flex, I made it a priority to be more comfortable saying “no.” I enjoy my work and give 110% to all my matters, and I want to say “yes” to a lot of things. But having been in the position of saying “yes” to too many things, I’ve learned to get over the guilt of saying “no” and figure out the right balance of what I can handle at work while also having time for family, friends, and everything else in life.

Thankfully, Gibson Dunn provides a supportive and easy learning environment for flex. I can change my reduced hours percentage at any time, and the firm does an annual true-up when I exceed my agreed-upon hours. More importantly, my colleagues and the partners I work with have helped me become more comfortable finding the right balance for me. When a partner comes to me with a new matter that I’d love to help with but I’m stretched too thin, I’m upfront about my reasons for saying “no.” I remind them to ask me again when the next new matter arises, and they do! Learning that partners understand and trust the reasons behind your “no” – and that they will come to you again – has made the process of saying “no” much easier.

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Action Step –
The Importance of Diversity & Flexibility Bright Spots

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.

If you Google the term “Bright Spots,” you’ll find the heart-warming story of a Save the Children Fund missionary named Jerry Sternin who helped save an entire community of malnourished children in Vietnam. Rather than focus on what the families of the children were doing wrong, Jerry chose to focus on the few children in the community who were healthy and thriving – the “Bright Spots.” His theory was if all the families could replicate what the Bright Spot mothers were doing, then the entire community could benefit and change for the better.

Sternin called his approach “positive deviance” – focusing on what individuals are doing right, rather than what others are doing wrong.

While most of us are not in the position of saving lives, this Bright Spots theory is also effective in business. In fact, change experts and authors, Dan and Chip Heath, often advise organizations to “find a Bright Spot and clone it.” They recommend focusing on what’s working instead of emphasizing what isn’t and what needs to be fixed.

We couldn’t agree more…

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This Year, Let’s Celebrate Your Bright Spots!

Happy New Year! This year, why not make it your new year’s resolution to celebrate your Bright Spots?

In 2019, we at the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance will be sharing diversity and flexibility Bright Spots – those small or large successes that impact your organization in a positive way. We believe that important diversity and flexibility initiatives can truly impact your organization’s bottom line, recruitment and retention capabilities and employee satisfaction. We also believe that you should celebrate these accomplishments!

We’re hoping that by sharing our members’ and non-members’ Bright Spots, we’ll help to build momentum and encourage a “Ripple Effect” so that organizations will see positive results elsewhere and implement the same strategies at home.

For our inaugural 2019 Bright Spots, we’re celebrating these 42 law firms who had 50% or greater women in their 2018 New Partner Class. (Check out our 2018 New Partner Report Executive Summary for more details.)

  1. Arent Fox
  2. Arnold & Porter
  3. Baker Donelson
  4. Boies Schiller & Flexner
  5. Brown Rudnick
  6. Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner
  7. Cahill Gordon & Reindel
  8. Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton
  9. Cozen O’Connor
  10. Debevoise & Plimpton
  11. Dechert
  12. Dentons
  13. Epstein Becker & Green
  14. Farella Braun + Martel
  15. Foley Hoag
  16. Fox Rothschild
  17. Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy
  18. Gibbons
  19. Goldberg Kohn
  20. Holland & Hart
  21. Jenner & Block
  22. Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel
  23. LeClairRyan
  24. Littler Mendelson
  25. McDermott Will & Emery
  26. Miles & Stockbridge
  27. Morgan, Lewis & Bockius
  28. Morrison & Foerster
  29. Norton Rose Fulbright
  30. Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart
  31. O’Melveny & Myers
  32. Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein
  33. Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman
  34. Saul Ewing
  35. Schiff Hardin
  36. Shutts & Bowen
  37. Sidley Austin
  38. Squire Patton Boggs
  39. Steptoe & Johnson
  40. Thompson Hine
  41. Wiley Rein
  42. Zuckerman Spaeder

Kudos to these firms for their commitment to the advancement of women!

We encourage you to take a moment now to reflect on your diversity and flexibility successes and celebrate your Bright Spots. Please share your Diversity & Flexibility Bright Spots with us by emailing manar@dfalliance.com. We’ll be sharing them on our website, in this blog,  and via social media throughout the year.