Action Steps Archives - Diversity & Flexibility Alliance

Action Step –
Structuring Affinity Groups for Optimal 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.

Organizations utilize affinity groups to build community among employees with shared identities, interests, and/or experiences. While fostering a sense of community is an important element of affinity groups, they can also lead to additional far-reaching organizational benefits. For example, affinity groups can provide training, push for new policies, and serve as a focus group to uncover challenges and bright spots to support the advancement of underrepresented groups. According to our 2017 Law Firm Flexibility Benchmarking Survey, one-third of our survey participants have a working parents affinity group and over 20% have a flex affinity group in place. While it’s a step in the right direction for more organizations to utilize affinity groups, it’s important to strategically think through the structure of the group and its roll-out in order to reap the most benefits.

CLARIFY FOCUS: Our action step, It Takes a Community, explains that all affinity groups should focus on three overarching pillars – promoting community, fostering training and development, and monitoring the progress and challenges. Think through the specific goals within each of these pillars you hope to achieve; this way the group will have a targeted mission and clear milestones to measure success. We recommend conducting a quick survey before launching any new group to better understand your employees’ specific interests, needs, and challenges in this area.

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Action Step –
Including All Caregivers in Your Parents Affinity Group

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.

Affinity groups are an effective way to build a community, share best practices, and promote policies and programming in targeted areas. A number of organizations have working parents affinity groups, as it’s a great way for parents to bond and discuss success stories and challenges. According to our 2017 Law Firm Flexibility Benchmarking Survey, one-third of our survey participants have a working parents affinity group in place. However, a number of organizations have begun to expand their working parents affinity group to a broader caregivers affinity group. This would include all caregivers, including parents and those caring for elderly and ill family members. By expanding to a caregivers affinity group, organizations become more inclusive and recognize that all caregivers face similar challenges (i.e. billable hours requirement, flexible work needs, implicit bias, etc.). Organizations should keep certain considerations in mind in order for a caregivers affinity group to meet broader goals.

EXPAND GOALS: Think through the desired goals and focus of the new group. Without carefully considering your goals, you run the risk of simply changing your working parents affinity group in name only without any real meaningful transformation. We recommend conducting a survey, focus groups, insight interviews, and/or check-in meetings. This way, you can better understand the needs and interests of any new/expanded affinity group to help you shape the focus and priorities…

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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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Action Step –
Reflect and Regroup to Create a Forward-Thinking 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 part of the year-end strategic planning process, organizational leaders should reflect back on their Diversity & Inclusion goals, programs, and policies to make sure they are achieving the desired results. Decision-makers should also reflect on industry trends and obstacles and develop ways to effectively advance change. By reflecting and regrouping, you gain valuable information to revamp your strategic plan and shape it into a forward-thinking D & I program.

– Assess Current Programs & Policies: Look at your current D & I programs and policies, and review the metrics to see if they’re achieving the intended goals. In order to assess these programs, review usage, data correlations to retention, advancement and satisfaction, perceptions, and general feedback. You can obtain this information through annual surveys, pilot program evaluations, human resources data, check-in meetings, insight interviews, and focus groups. Once you review this data, you can determine if programs are meeting their stated goals or if they need to be revamped.

– Consider Additional Programs & Policies to Fill Gaps: After assessing current programs and policies, think about what additional programs may be necessary to fill gaps and meet broader D & I goals. It’s important to gain an understanding of current industry trends by reviewing relevant D & I studies and industry research reports. You’ll have a clearer understanding as to what types of new programs and policies peer organizations are implementing. Consider adding these types of programs at your organization in order to stay forward-thinking, especially when they correspond with your broader D & I goals. For example, if one of your D & I goals is to advance more women into leadership positions, then consider adding mentoring and sponsorship programs, an on-ramping (gradual return to work from leave) program, and a gender-neutral leave policy…

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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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