Insights (Blog) - Diversity & Flexibility Alliance

Getting to Know Our Conference Speakers –
Sarah Alexander Goldfrank

We are so excited to have an amazing line-up of prominent leaders and trailblazers speaking at our 2018 Annual Conference Diversity + Flexibility = Embracing Change on Thursday, September 27.  We’ll be introducing these dynamic and engaging speakers throughout the summer and sharing their diversity and flexibility insights here on our blog. We’ve asked our speakers to answer a few questions about themselves, their approach to their career, and their lives. This week’s “Getting To Know Our Conference Speakers” post highlights Sarah Alexander Goldfrank, Senior Vice President & Deputy General Counsel in the Legal Department at Fannie Mae.

Diversity & Flexibility AllianceWhat was the most meaningful piece of leadership advice you received?

Sarah Alexander Goldfrank: From Frances Frei (Harvard Business School), “Leadership, at its core, is about making other people better as a result of your presence—and making sure that the impact lasts in your absence.”

DFA: How do you pay it forward?

SAG: By being an active mentor, sponsor, and cheerleader.

DFA: What can we be doing to create more inclusive organizations?

SAG: It all begins at the individual level – the relationships we foster and develop, the connections we make, the bonds and trust we build, the barriers we breakdown. Those individual, human connections are the foundation of an inclusive organization.

Join us on September 27th to hear Sarah’s panel “Making Change Happen from the Outside-In: The Power of Client Persuasion.” Sarah will join other leading in-house counsel to discuss the importance of diverse teams and inclusive cultures, both internally and externally, and the role they are playing to make change happen from the outside-in with their law firms and other vendors.

Getting to Know Our Conference Speakers –
Lori Mihalich-Levin

We are so excited to have an amazing line-up of prominent leaders and trailblazers speaking at our 2018 Annual Conference Diversity + Flexibility = Embracing Change on Thursday, September 27.  We’ll be introducing these dynamic and engaging speakers throughout the summer and sharing their diversity and flexibility insights here on our blog. We’ve asked our speakers to answer a few questions about themselves, their approach to their career, and their lives. Our first “Getting To Know Our Conference Speakers” post highlights Lori Mihalich-Levin, Partner at Dentons.

Diversity & Flexibility Alliance: What’s the most important message you hope attendees will learn from your presentation?

Lori Mihalich-Levin: That there are law firms that are committed to creativity when it comes to flexible arrangements, and that these arrangements can play a huge role in retaining talent.  There are also clients that are extremely supportive of flexibility, and it’s quite possible to have stellar client relationships and a flexible schedule.

DFA: What was the most meaningful piece of leadership advice you received?

LM-L: Recognize your worth, value, and what you bring to the table.  For example, you know all those skills you’re gaining in parenthood?  They are, in fact, useful in the workplace, too!

DFA: How do you recharge? Where and when are you most content?

LM-L: I recharge every day in two key ways.  In the morning, before breakfast, I do 15 minutes of yoga and meditation on the dining room floor.  Yes, I’m sometimes interrupted (and climbed on!) by my kids, but I keep at it.  And after work, I recharge by turning off all electronics between 5 and 8pm to really be present with my husband and two boys.  I am most content when my day includes both meaningful connections with people I care deeply about and some alone time.

DFA: What do you know now that you wish you knew then?

LM-L: That my career would turn out just fine, without my knowing every detail in advance.  I want to tell the 5th grade me who checked a huge book out of the library on various careers, read it cover to cover, and insisted she decide on one, that she should go outside and play!

DFA: How do you pay it forward?

LM-L: I pay it forward by committing to helping new parents navigate the rocky terrain of those early years of working parenthood.  I do this not only through the Mindful Return program I founded, but by intentionally connecting with and mentoring new parent colleagues at my office.

DFA: What can we be doing to create more inclusive organizations?

LM-L: We can relax our grip on the belief that there is one, and only one, “way it’s done.”  Being open to creative approaches makes an organization more appealing to those who may not “fit the mold.”

Join us on September 27th as Lori accepts our 2018 Flex Success Award with her client, Dr. Cindy Kelley of Summa Health, and shares her insights and advice on achieving flex success while providing excellent client services and achieving partnership. 

Action Step –
The Building Blocks for a Successful D&I Initiative

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.

A successful diversity and inclusion program requires clear focus, strong implementation of activities to meet delineated goals, and responsibility assigned to key players to effectively lead and engage in these activities. Whether your organization is looking to start a new D & I program or reenergize/resolve an existing one, the Alliance’s building blocks provide guidance for a successful initiative. By following each step in this path – ASSESS, ARTICULATE, ALIGN, and ACTIVATE – your organization can achieve a strong D & I program with specific objectives, focused activities, and measurable outcomes.

ASSESS State: The first critical step is to assess the current state of your organization’s D & I needs with respect to attracting, retaining, and advancing top talent. Organizations often look to see new programs and policies their peers are implementing, but you want to make sure those programs and policies meet the specific needs of your organization. To truly understand your organization’s unique D & I needs, start by analyzing various data points. For example, assess the demographic breakdown at each level of the organization to gain insights into any glass ceiling effects, review exit interviews to see if there is a disproportionate turnover rate with women and/or underrepresented demographic groups, analyze employee opinion surveys to see if there are any D & I issues raised, and review your organization’s check-in meetings with new hires to recognize challenges with recruiting top diverse talent. In addition, you should further investigate any red flags through focus groups and one-on-one interviews in order to gain essential first-person perspectives…

 

Read More