Insights Archives - Diversity & Flexibility Alliance

Are Your Organization’s Flexibility Goals Backed By Data?

There’s no doubt we live in a data-driven world. If you don’t have good data, you may not be making good decisions.

As an organization that collaborates with firms and corporations on diversity and flexibility initiatives, we at the Alliance always advise our members to gather data by tracking, monitoring and assessing their programs to ensure their ongoing success. If you don’t track and quantify, you’ll never know if your policy is meeting the needs of your employees and is successfully improving your bottom line. Success in the area of flexibility really translates to the recruitment and retention of engaged, fulfilled, effective and diverse talent.

We also take our own advice to heart. We couldn’t provide the advice that we do without backing it up with sound data. Over the last five years we’ve been able to advise our members on the challenges, opportunities and future trends in flexibility in the legal industry by surveying top US law firms. Initially, our benchmarking survey revolved around whether firms actually had a written flexibility policy. The survey has evolved to include expanded questions on different types of flexibility and leave policies offered and the types of employees, by race, gender, sexual orientation and position, who actually use the policy. For example, do attorneys on a partnership track feel comfortable telecommuting? Are those returning from caregiver leave provided support, tools and fair compensation? Does the firm use surveys, interviews, evaluations and pilot programs to ensure that the program is meeting the needs of its employees?

In particular, our survey seeks to help firms uncover and remove biases and thereby allows them to offer policies that can truly impact the success of their business. Firms that participate in our survey are able to benchmark themselves against others in the industry and uncover the gaps in their policies and its usage.

We recently released the results of our 2017 Law Firm Flexibility Benchmarking Survey. The survey, which is available in full to our members and participant firms, (the Executive Summary is available to everyone else) allows us to take a glimpse at the state of the legal industry and predict the most important trends we see moving forward.

From the data, we’re able to advise law firms on how they can lead the industry in recruitment and retention of top talent. Whether it’s through increasing the types of leave policies and expanding their reach, offering extra compensation and additional support following a leave, or simply creating a more inclusive environment that ensures a culture that embraces flexibility, firms that want to meet the needs of the workforce of the future need to be on top of the current trends.

Our Annual Conference on September 27 will highlight the latest research and trends in flexibility and provide attendees with the key steps to take to truly embrace flexibility and its benefits. Register to join us today.

Getting to Know Our Conference Speakers –
Dr. Cindy Kelley

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 Dr. Cindy Kelley, Vice President of Medical Education at Summa Health.

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

Dr. Cindy Kelley: The most meaningful piece of leadership advice I received was…Be vulnerable.  I had to learn this from my own experience, the power of vulnerability.  And when I started reading more leadership books, I learned that the successful leaders are the ones who aren’t afraid to be vulnerable.  As leaders, we need to understand how important it is to:
a. Recognize that we don’t know it all,
b. Be open, truly open, to all ideas and perspectives, and
c. Be able to admit when we’ve made a mistake.  If more leaders could be vulnerable and role model this kind of openness, we’d see growth and change happen so much faster.

DFA: How do you recharge?
CK: I recharge at home.  I live in northeast Ohio so my recharging rituals vary depending on the weather!  In the winter, I’m most content on my couch with a fire in the fireplace and a book in my hands.  In the summer, trade the couch for an outdoor lounge chair, and the fireplace for our pool.  Keep the book in my hand!  I also love a morning walk with my dog; even better when one of my kids joins me. And yoga.  Ah, yoga!
DFA: What do you know now that you wish you knew then?

CK: I know this but I’m still trying to do it!  And that is, fight the urge to always be in the next place doing the next thing.  My daughters are the best ones at reminding me how important it is to be fully engaged in what I am doing right now.  My 8 year old even gently puts her hands on either side of my head, turns it so I’m looking directly at her and says, “Mom, you need to look at me,” when she knows I’m only half-listening to her.  Kids know.

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

CK: I think creating more inclusive organizations begins with a few basic things. First, we need to listen.  Listen to each other, to people that don’t look like us/talk like us/dress like us.  We need to listen for and find the places where we overlap:  our values, needs, wants. Those are the same no matter what other differences we might have.  Next, when we are ready to talk, we need to change the words we use.  We need to use kinder words, and words that are free from bias and judgement.  That’s hard.  Not because we want to use hurtful language, but because we’ve learned this language over time from powerful influences all around us.  But we can change the dialogue and I believe that is where real change begins.  Lastly, we need to show up.  To meetings, town halls, events.  If you are lucky enough to be in a leadership role, you have the obligation to use your time, your most valuable asset, to make the world a better place.


Join us for our Annual Conference on September 27th as Dr. Kelley accepts the Flex Success Award with Dentons Partner Lori Mihalich-Levin and shares how together they have been able to create a successful relationship that supports flexibility and advances inclusive cultures.

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. 

Honoring the Flex Trailblazers

Note: This post was first published on March 14, 2018 on 1 Million For Work Flexibility’s blog. 1MFWF is the first national initiative bringing people together to create a collective voice in support of work flexibility, and the Alliance is a supporting organization. Thank you to 1MFWF for allowing us to share our news about our 2018 Flex Impact Awards!

As an organization that collaborates with corporations and professional services firms on the development, implementation and management of their flexible work initiatives, we are thrilled when a company goes above what is required by law and beyond what is the norm in their industry. Each year at our annual conference we honor the corporations and firms that we believe are setting the trends in flexibility and truly impacting the workforce.

This year, we have selected tech giant Dell and international law firms Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP and White & Case LLP as our 2018 Flex Impact Award honorees for their initiatives that we believe are poised to have a significant impact on the culture of workplace flexibility. All three of these organizations have demonstrated their willingness to invest in their employees and lead their industries with more progressive approaches to flexible work and leave policies. Each of these initiatives is aimed at better meeting the needs of a new generation of employees, while also positively impacting inclusion, recruitment and retention of top talent.

We will be honoring Dell for its worldwide flexible work initiative, Connected Workplace, which has enabled the corporation to increase employee engagement and retention, conserve natural resources and energy, cut back on real estate expenses and reduce transportation pollution. This initiative encourages all eligible employees to choose where and when they work and provides the technology needed for team collaboration and flexibility training. Additionally employees have access to a resource group, called Conexus, that helps remote team members connect to share best practices, network and develop camaraderie. Dell’s Executive Leadership team has led the initiative by working remotely themselves and emphasizing flexibility as a key component of the company’s culture and integral part of its business strategy.

Fried Frank will be honored for its full-pay, “on-ramping” policy, which allows employees returning from parental leave to gradually return to full-time over a six-month period. Caregivers are thereby allowed to slowly ease their way back into work after leave by working a 75 percent schedule while receiving full compensation. By committing to a relatively small financial investment in its employees who are new parents, Fried Frank has been able to retain employees who might otherwise have been overwhelmed with the stress of full-time work and parenthood.

White & Case will be honored for its new gender-neutral parental leave policy that eliminates the primary and secondary caregiver designation and is also offered to both attorneys and staff. The firm’s policy allows all parents to take 12 weeks of leave any time within 12 months following the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child. By extending the same benefits to attorneys and staff members, no matter the level or position, White & Case has been able to foster a more inclusive environment and demonstrate its commitment to supporting all of its employees.

The 2018 Flex Impact Awards will be presented at the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance’s annual conference Diversity + Flexibility = Embracing Change on March 21, 2018 in Washington, DC. The conference is an interactive, one-day event delivering the latest trends, cutting-edge research and best practices in diversity and flexibility and attracts professionals from all industries. Our conference is designed to provide attendees with the opportunity to hear expert insights and first-hand perspectives from top-level executives and acquire concrete strategies to implement real change in their organizations.

More information and registration for the conference are available here.

Manar Morales is the President & CEO of The Diversity & Flexibility Alliance, and a national thought leader on women’s leadership, diversity, and workplace flexibility. The Diversity & Flexibility Alliance, a 1MFWF supporter, is a think tank dedicated to providing practical solutions that increase organizational effectiveness and create high performance cultures through diversity and flexibility.

Join More than 50 Law Firms & Fortune 500 Companies As We Tackle the Issues of Diversity and Flexibility

This week, in an intriguing post, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg reflected on how far (and not so far) we have come in gender equality in the five years since her book, Lean In, was released. While she cautioned that we should be both “outraged and optimistic” about the battle for gender parity, she also wisely stated:

“There are reasons to be hopeful. The facts are on our side. We know that diverse teams are more productive. We know that when organizations have more women, especially in leadership, employee benefits are more generous and sexual harassment is less prevalent…We know that when fathers invest more in their families, their children are happier, healthier, and do better in school and professionally.”

We couldn’t agree more.

On Wednesday, March 21, executives, chairs, leaders and general counsel from more than 50 top law firms and Fortune 500 companies will gather here in Washington, DC to tackle the important issues of diversity and flexibility in our workplaces. Our 2018 annual conference Diversity + Flexibility = Embracing Change, will empower attendees to make the changes needed to build a more inclusive environment, develop flexibility and leave initiatives that support all employees, advance diverse individuals and improve the recruitment and retention of top talent.

With limited time and resources, busy professionals often find it hard to justify spending a day at a conference. However, our conference might just be worth the investment. In just one day, our conference attendees walk away with the most effective strategies for real results. In just that one day, attendees can build a network of dozens of senior level peers dedicated to advancing diversity and flexibility from across top ranking law firms and Fortune 500 companies.

Top five reasons anyone responsible for diversity and flexibility in an organization should not miss this conference:

  1. You’ll hear about diversity and flexibility best practices from top law firms like White & Case, Fried Frank, Akin Gump, Dentons, as well as corporations like Dell, Politico, Deloitte, Intel, Lockheed Martin, TV One and more;
  2. You’ll be the first to hear what is trending in law firm flexibility and leave initiatives as we release our 2017 Law Firm Flexibility Benchmarking Study results;
  3. You’ll learn about new cutting-edge data from Gallup about employee engagement and its role in the recruitment and retention of your future workforce;
  4. You’ll obtain first-hand advice and concrete tips from our KPMG women’s initiative case study;
  5. You’ll gain insights from General Counsel on how they are embracing change and the diversity commitment they expect from their outside counsel.

As we prepare for our conference we are reminded of the eloquent words of last year’s keynote speaker, John Veihmeyer, Retired Chairman of KPMG International. In his Linked In article about the day, John stated “Unless people in your organization think you see building an inclusive culture, that stimulates diversity, as fundamental to both the organization’s, and their success, it simply won’t be a priority.”

Why not make it a priority today?

Please register here.




These Forty-Four Firms Are Demonstrating Their Commitment to Gender Parity
in the Legal Industry

As we announced in our 2017 New Partner Report, there were 44 firms that promoted 50% or more women in this year’s new partner class. Congratulations to these firms for their commitment to gender parity and for developing a top quality leadership team.

  1. Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer
  2. Baker Donelson
  3. Covington & Burling
  4. Cravath, Swaine & Moore
  5. Crowell & Moring
  6. Debevoise & Plimpton
  7. Dorsey & Whitney
  8. Drinker Biddle & Reath
  9. Epstein Becker & Green
  10. Eversheds Sutherland
  11. Fitzpatrick, Cella, Harper & Scinto
  12. Foley Hoag
  13. Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy
  14. Goldberg Kohn
  15. Haynes and Boone
  16. Hughes Hubbard & Reed
  17. Hunton & Williams
  18. Husch Blackwell
  19. Jenner & Block
  20. Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel
  21. Kutak Rock
  22. LeClairRyan
  23. Littler Mendelson
  24. Locke Lord
  25. Loeb & Loeb
  26. McDermott Will & Emery
  27. Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy
  28. Miles & Stockbridge
  29. Miller & Chevalier
  30. Morrison & Foerster
  31. Nixon Peabody
  32. O’Melveny & Myers
  33. Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein
  34. Paul Hastings
  35. Pepper Hamilton
  36. Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman
  37. Quarles & Brady
  38. Schulte Roth & Zabel
  39. Steptoe & Johnson
  40. Van Ness Feldman
  41. Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz
  42. Weil, Gotshal & Manges
  43. Williams & Connolly
  44. Willkie Farr & Gallagher
Read More

In Case You Missed It:
Dr. Lauren Rivera’s Fascinating Insights Into Social Class Bias in Hiring


Recently, we welcomed Lauren Rivera, Associate Professor of Management and Organizations at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and the author of Pedigree: How Elite Students Get Elite Jobs as our Signature Seminar Series presenter. Dr. Rivera shared her insights and advice on How On-Campus Recruiting and Cultural Fit Are Ruining Your Diversity and Recruitment Efforts.

In case you missed it…here are some highlights:

What Happened to the American Dream?

We like to think that America is the land of opportunity and anyone, no matter his or her background, social class, race or gender, can be successful if they work hard enough. However, research shows that social class in particular affects how far and how fast you’ll climb the economic ladder. Bottom line: From one generation to the next, Americans generally stay in the same social and economic class.

Bias in Recruitment is Damaging Your Diversity Efforts

Dr. Rivera spent a decade investigating the recruiting and hiring practices of professional services firms and law firms and came to the conclusion that elite students from wealthy, upper middle class families are most likely to get the elite jobs, regardless of achievement. Additionally, it was clear that the hiring practices of these firms were detrimental to diversity efforts and ultimately the financial wellbeing of the firms.

Three Factors Harming Your Diversity & Recruitment Efforts

  1. By limiting your recruitment efforts to on-campus recruitment at elite universities, the game is rigged towards students with high parental income and education at the most expensive institutions. You are therefore completely missing top students at less elite universities who may be just as qualified but often are from lower income families. Interestingly, at many firms, hires from the most elite schools are not staying long term, and therefore, are costing firms more money in recruiting and training costs.
Read More

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.

Read More

Happy National Flex Day!
Does your Organization Have a Unique Business Case for Flexibility?

Today is The Fifth Annual National Flex Day and organizations like Working Mother and One Million For Work Flexibility (1MFWF) are celebrating by sharing stories about individuals who have successfully implemented flexible work schedules and reaped countless benefits. (Tune in to their webinar on the State of National Flex from 2-3 pm ET today). Additionally, we feature a Spotlight on Flex each month which highlights a professional who is successfully working a flexible schedule.

There’s no doubt that people with flexible schedules are generally happier and more content with their careers, and they’re also often higher performing, more productive, and more engaged. From an organizational standpoint, you gain improved productivity, commitment, recruitment, retention and, in many cases, cost savings.

Bottom line: When implemented correctly, flexibility is a win-win for all.

A flexible work policy is no longer a perk, it’s now a business imperative. If your company or firm does not have a formal flexible work policy, or if you have one that’s rarely used, it’s time to reboot. The first and most important step in creating or revising your flex policy is to develop your organization’s unique business case for flexibility. This is the foundation for all aspects of your flexibility initiative –from communication to implementation, management, usage and tracking. It is also an essential element of your organization’s evolution towards a culture that truly values and embraces flexibility.

Five Factors to Consider When Creating Your Organization’s Unique Business Case for Flexibility

1. Employee Satisfaction and Tenure

Non-Stigmatized flexible work policies can increase satisfaction and tenure among all employees. Whether it’s to take care of a child or an ailing parent, to avoid tedious traffic, or to pursue a new interest, everyone needs flexibility at some point in their career. Meeting the needs of a diverse workforce will allow your organization to retain its valuable employees and thrive and prosper into the future.

2. Less Employee Turnover – Lower Attrition Expenses

Improving retention improves quality of service. The longer an employee stays and gains experience and knowledge, the higher the quality of their work. Additionally, the longer employees stay, the less your organization has to spend on recruitment and training. If available, collect your organization’s data regarding replacement hiring and training costs, as well as statistics on who is leaving and when.

3. Improved Quality of Recruits

A successful flexibility initiative helps to improve recruitment efforts and bring in the top recruits who know that your firm or company has a growing reputation as a great place to work and have a life. You are able to cherry pick the best of the best talent.

4. Client Satisfaction

If your organization is a professional services or law firm with clients, have your clients complained about high turnover? Maintaining a consistent team of professionals who know your clients’ issues and needs is essential to client relations.

5. Gender Diversity

As we mentioned, flexibility policies benefit everyone and should be de-gendered, de-parented and de-stigmatized. This, however, does not diminish from the fact that flexibility can have an impact on an organization’s ability to attract, retain and advance women. A recent study on diversity by the Boston Consulting Group found that the number one most effective factor in a woman’s career success is a formal flexible work policy. Therefore, an important part of your business case for flexibility should include its role in the gender diversity of your organization – particularly in its leadership roles.

So on this Fifth Anniversary of National Flex Day, why not take a few minutes to review your flex policy and make sure that your unique business case for flex is strong, compelling and understood throughout your organization. Your goal is to demonstrate a true connection between flexibility and your organization’s performance and bottom-line.

Once you have your unique business case for flexibility you’ll be able to develop a plan to thoughtfully implement the policy. Let us know how we can help! Our Flex Success® Framework is a five-step proprietary process for developing a successful flexible work policy and we can help guide you through the process.