Action Steps Archives - Diversity & Flexibility Alliance

Action Step –
The Telecommuters’ Guide to Working Remotely

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.

In order to recruit and retain top talent, organizations need to offer flexible work options to stay competitive. One of these options, telecommuting, has increased in use and popularity, and millennials in particular value, desire, and expect the ability to telecommute. As organizations become more global and more employees need to travel and work off-site, telecommuting has moved from a form of flexible work to being a business operations necessity. Organizations are also utilizing telecommuting as a way to cut real estate and overhead costs. When employers provide resources and support to help telecommuters succeed, they set themselves apart in terms of recruitment, retention, and productivity.

Employers should clearly communicate tactics and provide support to help remote workers succeed, both in terms of fostering effective team and individual productivity, as well as long-term career success. But like all forms of flexibility, successful telecommuting is a two-way street. Telecommuters need to: maintain visibility by having an active presence, foster relationships with key sponsors and mentors, be responsive, communicate their workload, proactively solicit feedback, be flexible about schedules, and maintain a professional workspace in order to reduce distractions and maintain focus…

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Action Step –
Highlights From the 2018 Annual Conference

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.

The following are highlights from the many words of wisdom shared by our dynamic and engaging 2018 Annual Conference panelists and speakers:

– Nicole Collier, Director of Policy & Public Affairs, Nestlé: We see this urgency to address diversity and inclusion from the investor community. This needs to be a company-wide discussion where you can talk about differences outside of the workplace.

– Vipula Gandhi, Managing Partner, Eastern US, Gallup Inc.: Experiences matter, and the war for talent is more. Employees are looking and leaving; the world of work is evolving; there are more women and millennials; and when, why, and how we work has changed. Millennials need purpose, want a coach, and care about learning and development versus just having a job.

– Michelle Gold, Partner & Governance Committee Member, Fried Frank (2018 Flex Impact Organization Honoree): We want our associates back for their careers. The key has been communication, and no one size fits all. A person’s job is to speak up, and everyone has to share information.

– Sarah Goldfrank, Senior Vice President & Deputy General Counsel, Fannie Mae: We need to walk the walk and not just talk – that isn’t fair to employees. We have to ask what have we done to increase diversity within and beyond the company and hold ourselves accountable.

 

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Action Step –
Leverage Your Alliance Benefits to Create A Best-In-Class D&I Program

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.

As we approach the end of this year, we want to remind members of all their Alliance benefits and ways to leverage them to create a best-in-class D & I program. The Alliance is here to partner with you by providing high level programming with top consultants, cutting edge research, strategic guidance, community support, and networking in order to launch and revamp your D&I programs and policies. Here are some specific resources we want to highlight:

Programming: The Alliance offers Signature Seminars, which are high level, virtual programs that run six times a year. These programs have included top talent management professionals and thought leaders, such as Ritu Bhasin, Scott Westfahl, Verna Myers, Manar Morales, and Paul Burton covering a wide range of topics, such as business development, leading effective teams, feedback, sponsorship/mentoring, managing conflict, time management/productivity, and communication. Members can maximize this benefit by: (a) hosting these virtual programs for employees in a conference room with a follow-up discussion moderated by a leader in the organization; (b) providing employees access to these virtual programs for individual viewing for their career development; and (c) having talent development and D & I professionals preview these programs to assess which consultants might be a good fit to bring in for future programming. Remember it’s particularly important to supplement your flexible work and D & I program and policies with education so they are successful. The Signature Seminars can also be used to make sure flex professionals have the tools they need to succeed, supervisors understand how to effectively manage and lead flex professionals, and staff can gain insights to important ways to support flex professionals. Members can access Signature Seminar recordings for up to 30 days after the original air date…

 

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Action Step –
Launching a Successful Coaching Program

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.

Many organizations are offering coaching services to employees in order to help support them with various stages of their careers and lives. Professional coaches can help employees foster their career development and work-life autonomy, help enhance specific skills, and/or assist employees during pivotal career promotions and transitions. Organizations can successfully create and implement coaching programs by focusing on key areas: Selection, integration, Reporting, and Monitoring to make sure coaching services are being effectively utilized and meeting objectives such as promoting talent retention and work satisfaction.

SELECTION: The first step in ensuring a successful coaching program is to select a professional coach with the right expertise, background, and fit for the organization. For coaching programs focused on certain professionals or specific objectives, it is important for the coach to have an expertise in that area. For instance, if a coaching program is targeted to help parents or flex employees, the professional coach should have significant experience with diversity and inclusion matters, work-life autonomy issues, and career development. During this selection process, talent management professionals should meet with potential coaches to understand their background, expertise, and resources. Organizations can also consider rolling out a pilot coaching program by offering coaching services to certain departments in order to assess whether the professional coach is the right fit and whether such coaching services would be helpful on a broader scale…

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Action Step –
Supporting Parents Returning From Leave

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 need to support parents before, during, and after parental leave in order to retain top talent. In last month’s Action Step, Providing the Right Support Before Parental Leave, we discussed the need to support employees prior to parental leave by communicating available resources and policies, creating a systematic procedure for the transition of work, and utilizing existing and targeted programs to provide assistance. When employees return from parental leave, it’s crucial to ensure they receive adequate flexibility, guidance, and support to transition back to work successfully.

To help employees have smooth transitions back to work and avoid unwanted attrition, organizations should implement formal on-ramping and flexible work policies to help parents find their own work-life control, create a culture of acceptance for on-ramping policies through leadership promotion and education, and provide support through community, mentorship and guidance. By focusing on these key areas – Formal Policies, Culture of Acceptance, and Support & Resources – organizations can create smooth and seamless transitions back to work for parents. While the framework discussed in this action step focuses transition back to work from parental leave, organizations can apply these best practices for any family or medical leave or sabbatical.

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Action Step –
Providing the Right Support Before Parental Leave

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.

In order to retain top talent, companies and firms need to support parents before, during, and after parental leave. While more organizations are utilizing on-ramping programs and providing support to parents returning from leave, organizations also need to remember to focus on smoothly transitioning parents to parental leave to promote team productivity, enhance client satisfaction, and reduce turnover.

To help with this process, companies and firms need to communicate available resources and policies, create a systematic procedure for the transition of work, and provide support through existing and targeted programs. By focusing on these key tasks – Communicate, Systematize, and Support – organizations can accomplish a smooth and seamless transition for parents to parental leave. While this action step focuses on easing employees’ transitions to parental leave, organizations can apply these best practices for any family or medical leave.

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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…

 

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Action Step –
Truly Inclusive Flexible Work and Leave Policies Must Include Staff

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.

Many organizations offer vastly different flex and leave benefits to employees at different levels of seniority and with different responsibilities. For example, at a number of law firms, attorneys have access to better flexibility and leave policies than professional staff. Given the integral role that staff plays at companies and firms, we recommend that organizations make their formal flex and leave policies more widely available to staff in order to promote higher satisfaction and retention rates. While the flex work types offered should reflect the diverse needs of staff and may differ from those offered to other professionals, providing flexibility to all employees is important to realizing your organization’s inclusion objectives.

The results of our 2017 Law Firm Flexibility Benchmarking Survey, which tracks workplace flexibility in law firms, show there has been little progress on closing the gap between the level of formal flex and leave policies offered to staff as compared to attorneys. While nearly all participating firms (94% of this year’s respondents) have a flex policy for attorneys, only 16.7% of participating firms report having a flex policy for staff. It’s worth noting the difference between firms offering paid gender-neutral leave to attorneys (89% of firms surveyed), as compared to firms offering paid gender-neutral leave to all staff (61% of firms surveyed). Of the firms surveyed, 22% do not offer any paid parental leave for staff.

These results serve as a good reminder to make sure your flex and leave policies are inclusive of all employees. Here are some ways to reduce the disparity in flex and leave benefits among employees…

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Action Step –
Is the Glass Half Empty or Half Full?

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.

 

Recent surveys show that men perceive greater progress towards gender equality than women do:

– More men (63%) than women (49%) think their organizations are making progress on gender diversity.[i]

– More women (83%) than men (76%) see gender diversity as moderately or very important.[ii]

– When asked about discrimination against women in the tech industry, 29% of men and 44% of women say it is a major problem.[iii]

This presents both an insight and a challenge for initiatives to advance women. For the insight: it explains in part why women’s advancement is so slow. For change to occur, there has to be a sense of necessity and urgency to overcome inertia. If men see no particular need to prioritize women’s progress in their organizations, they will be more prone to sit on the sidelines while others work to advance women. Even worse, organizational leadership may believe their organizations have done enough to ensure gender parity and actively resist initiatives to advance women.

Which brings us to the challenge: how can change advocates use this information to advocate for the advancement of women? The key foundational step is to address the disconnect through evidence and encouraging reflection. Here are some suggestions…

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Action Step – Monitor & Measure Flex Success®

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.

One of the key, but most overlooked, steps in the Alliance’s Flex Success® Framework is to Reinforce Flex Success® by regularly monitoring and measuring flex programs. Through this process, organizations can more effectively assess, improve, publicize, and build upon flex programs. As a number of law firms and corporations have started to expand their flexible work offerings, we need to focus on what’s working, what we need to improve, how to share successes, and what additional flex programs we should consider. By doing this, we can gain true acceptance of flex programs in order to promote usage and reduce flex bias. Here are some specific ways to monitor and measure your flex programs:

Surveys: Surveys are a great way to collect information and metrics from a large workforce in an efficient manner. Organizations can conduct annual surveys to understand the importance employees place on flexibility, whether employees have the flexibility they need, the types of flexible work arrangements most appreciated, how often formal and informal flexible work options are utilized, and additional types of flexible work arrangements needed. These responses can help build a business case for the need to offer and expand flexible work arrangements. If you conduct a general employee opinion survey, see if these flex-related questions can be added and compared with responses from other questions related to employee satisfaction/commitment to demonstrate how flexibility impacts these areas.

Interviews: Interviews and focus groups with employees are a great way to gain more detailed information as to what’s working and what’s not. Think about adding questions relating to flexibility in exit interviews and check-in meetings with new employees. In order to understand the impact of flexibility on turnover, ask employees during exit interviews if they felt like they had the flexibility they needed, if they would have stayed if they had more flexibility, and what types of flexible work options they would have wanted. In order to understand the impact of flexibility on recruiting, ask new employees during check-in meetings the reasons why they chose to join your organization and how important flexibility is to them.

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