Insights Archives - Diversity & Flexibility Alliance

Bright Spot: Winston & Strawn’s Gender-Neutral Parental Leave Policy

 

In 2019, we 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. 

BRIGHT SPOT

One of international law firm Winston & Strawn’s Bright Spots is its Gender-Neutral Parental Leave Policy. After working with the Alliance to clearly identify employee needs and firm goals, Winston & Strawn was able to expand its parental leave policy to better support the demands of today’s families. Implemented in 2016, the policy allows 20 weeks of paid leave for attorneys regardless of gender to care for and bond with a new baby or child. Additionally, parents are not required to designate themselves as “primary” or “secondary” caregivers. The parental leave can be taken at one time or in two increments within a year of the birth or adoption of a child.

Winston also developed a Parental Leave Transition Support Program that includes a Parental Leave Liaison, an external, confidential career coach, and “ramp down” and “ramp up” periods during which billable hours are adjusted to aid in the transition for new parents. The policy applies to all US-based Associates and Of Counsel attorneys. Improvements also were made to the policies for practice attorneys and staff.

IMPACT

By removing the primary and secondary caregiver designations, Winston & Strawn has been able to shift the focus of parental leave from one that focuses on just women to one that focuses on all parents. Since the implementation of the policy, the firm has seen a consistent year-over-year increase in the percentage of men taking parental leave, as well as the length of leave time taken by men. For example, the average length of parental leave taken by men in 2018 was more than double the average length of time taken prior to the implementation of the policy. In addition, in 2018, over 20% of men taking parental leave took 18-20 weeks, in either one or two increments.

The Parental Leave Liaison and coach have been instrumental in helping attorneys maintain their connection to the firm and feel supported before, during and after their leave, with many associates choosing to participate in the firm-provided coaching. The policy has allowed parents at Winston & Strawn to find long-term career success while also caring for their families. Winston received Family Leave category honors in Yale Law Women’s “Top Family Friendly Firms of 2017,” an honor that will undoubtedly impact recruitment.

Since receiving the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance’s 2017 Flex Impact Award, Winston & Strawn has been seen as a trailblazer in the field. The firm is helping to drive innovation and inspire other firms to reevaluate their policies to better meet the needs of today’s families. The Alliance has seen an increase in these types of Gender-Neutral policies which can have a significant impact on the culture of flexibility and can clearly impact recruitment and retention.

Please share your Diversity & Flexibility Bright Spots with us by downloading and completing THIS SHORT FORM and emailing it to Jane Caldeira at jane@dfalliance.com

Achieving Flex Success®

In this article, our President & CEO, Manar Morales sums up her advice on achieving Flex Success®. It’s not too late to register for our Flex Success Institute, which provides detailed and personalized advice on successfully navigating your flexible schedule.

Over the years, I’ve counseled countless professionals on how to successfully transition to and manage a flexible schedule while maintaining a strong career path. While many professionals can’t imagine cutting back their hours in the office without jeopardizing their careers, I can attest that with the right strategies in place, anyone can achieve Flex Success®.

At the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance, we have developed our Seven Strategies for Flex Success® to help professionals working a flexible schedule to overcome challenges, seize opportunities and advance their careers.

Define What Success Means to You

The first step to ensuring that you will be successful while working a flexible schedule is to envision your future plans and define what success means to you. Take the time to clearly map out your one, three, and five-year vision for your personal life as well as your professional life. Include financial and professional development obstacles and needs, as well as personal goals.

Identify What Makes You Special

The second step is to identify what you bring to the table and then capitalize on it. It’s all about self-reflection and self-esteem. The best way to feel confident is to know your strengths and identify what makes you unique. By developing an area of expertise that’s in demand, you make yourself uniquely valuable to your firm or corporation, regardless of your schedule.

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Don’t Forget to Choose Your Responsibilities Wisely & Make Time for Yourself

This is the last in our series of seven blog posts featuring advice on our Seven Strategies for Flex Success®. We’ve covered Defining Your SuccessOwning Your ValueActivating your Mindset and GritCreating Your BrandBuilding Your Network and Expanding Your Business Development Efforts.  Finally it’s time to focus on enhancing your work life control and making sure your life in the office functions along side your life outside the office. To learn more about successfully navigating your flexible schedule and maximizing your career potential, register for our virtual Flex Success® Institute.

The first six strategies in our Seven Strategies for Flex Success® focus on getting your day to day flexible schedule in order to set yourself up for success in your career. It’s essential to acknowledge that this is not possible unless you can also find success and happiness outside of your career.

When launching a project at the office there are certain steps you take to ensure all responsibilities are assigned and all goals will be met. You negotiate and decide to which responsibilities you can add high impact and high value and which responsibilities you can delegate to others. You clearly articulate what is expected of your team and you make sure that your commitments are met. Ultimately you know that you can’t and shouldn’t do it all alone.

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Business Development Is Integral to Your Flex Success®

This is the sixth in a series of seven blog posts featuring advice on our Seven Strategies for Flex Success®. We’ve covered Defining Your SuccessOwning Your ValueActivating your Mindset and GritCreating Your Brand and Building Your Network.  Next it’s important to expand your business development efforts. To learn more about successfully navigating your flexible schedule and maximizing your career potential, register for our virtual Flex Success® Institute.

No matter what industry you’re in, it’s always a good idea to stay one step ahead of your business, your clients, your customers or your marketplace. You always want to be thinking about tomorrow and where your career is headed and where your income is coming from. While you might approach business development in a slightly different manner in light of your flexible schedule, it’s still imperative that you dedicate time to business development and to generating your future revenue.

The sixth strategy in our Seven Strategies for Flex Success® is Expand Your Business Development. Whether you’re working with clients or reporting to internal supervisors, make sure you’re demonstrating a deep understanding of their needs, business realities and serving as a trusted advisor to help them accomplish their current and future goals. To help you build future clients, projects and customers, you should turn to the network of colleagues, mentors, sponsors and former classmates that you built in the Fifth Strategy. This network can help you expand your reach and enhance your ideas on business development, key elements to creating more autonomy in your career and ultimately greater work-life control.

You may be concerned about investing time in business development when you’re working a reduced hours schedule and therefore already have less time for work. However, many professionals working a reduced hours schedule have told us that their flexible schedule has allowed them to excel at business development and, in fact, has become integral to their career success. It’s important to incorporate time into your flex schedule for business development as well as for activities that will raise your personal profile such as speaking engagements, publishing articles and papers and networking.

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It Takes a Village

This is the fifth in a series of seven blog posts featuring advice on our Seven Strategies for Flex Success®. We’ve covered Defining Your SuccessOwning Your Value, Activating your Mindset and Grit, Creating Your Brand and now it’s time to build your network. To learn more about successfully navigating your flexible schedule and maximizing your career potential, register for our virtual Flex Success® Institute.

Most successful corporations are led by a CEO who is advised and counseled by an experienced Board of Directors. As a professional working a flexible schedule, you should view yourself as the CEO of your own corporation, and you undoubtedly need a “Board of Directors” to support you. No matter how effective you are on your own, it’s critical that you surround yourself with a group of experienced people who can advise you, guide you, mentor you, and open doors for you.

Our fifth strategy for Flex Success® is “Build Your Networks and Personal Board of Advisors.” This personal board of advisors should consist of individuals from inside and outside of your organization. It should include both mentors who can give you advice, and sponsors who invest in and advocate for you. The internal perspectives can assist you in your career advancement and help you to address blind spots in your career path, especially those related to your flex schedule. Your external advisors can provide you with outside perspectives from an industry point of view and can help open doors to new opportunities, if necessary.
As you build your network and personal board of advisors, it’s important to keep in mind that you want to find people who you trust, who you respect, and who will be candid with you. These individuals should be open to constructive conversations about your career as well as the challenges and opportunities your flexible schedule might bring. It’s important to value and maintain your relationships with these mentors and advisors and make sure to meet with them on a regular basis.

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It’s All About Marketing

This is the fourth in a series of seven blog posts featuring advice on our Seven Strategies foFlex Success®. To learn more, register for our 2019 Flex Success® Institute, a five-part virtual professional development program for professionals working a flexible schedule. 

Seven Strategies For Flex SuccessIn Step Two of our Seven Strategies for Flex Success® you worked on Owning Your Value. You identified what makes you unique and what only you can bring to the table.   Knowing what makes you special gives you confidence and self-esteem. The fourth strategy revolves around harnessing this self-esteem and creating your personal brand. Just as a corporation would market a product, you need to market yourself to make sure others perceive you the way you want to be perceived.

There is power in perception.

As a professional working a flexible schedule, it’s particularly important to control how others see you to counteract flex stigma that others in your office may harbor.

Make sure that you are speaking positively about your schedule and your work. Remember that how you talk about yourself drives how others are talking about you. Ask for feedback about how people perceive you. In particular, ask your mentor or sponsor if others have a positive perception of you and your work and how you can improve your image. Your career trajectory not only depends on the quality of your work but also your reputation as someone who is serious about your own success and the success of the organization.

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Do You Have the Right Mindset to Overcome Flex Stigma?

This is the third in a series of seven blog posts featuring advice on our Seven Strategies for Flex Success®. We’ve covered Defining Your Success and Owning Your Value, now it’s time to activate your mindset and grit to overcome any flex bias you may encounter. Register for our online Flex Success® Institute to learn more detailed steps to successfully navigate your flexible schedule and maximize your career potential.

We’re not going to lie to you. It’s not always going to be easy to transition from being in the office full-time to a flexible work schedule. While many industries have come a long way in understanding the value flexible work policies provide, biases still exist. No matter where you work, you may come across co-workers who think you’re less committed to the job because you work reduced hours. You may also be faced with supervisors who question your time at home and whether you are actually working when you’re not physically in the office.

It’s best to be prepared for these obstacles, and when they do arise, it’s important to maintain your confidence and harness your grit. You know you are meeting the needs and deadlines of your team and/or clients. You know you are following your company’s flexible work policy guidelines as well as your own personal flex plan. And, you know the quality of your work has not diminished at all (in fact it may have improved.)

Most of these hurdles and biases should be temporary bumps in the road. Activate your “big-picture,” growth mindset and remind yourself that working flexibly is actually better for you and your organization because it’s helping ensure a longer, more steadfast relationship.

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What Do You Bring to the Table? It’s Time to Own Your Value

This is the second in a series of seven blog posts featuring advice on our Seven Strategies for Flex Success®. To learn more, register today for our 2019 Flex Success® Institute, a five-part, virtual professional development program for mid-level professionals working a flexible schedule. Program begins April 2, 2019.

In the first of the seven steps, you developed your definition of success by mapping out your one, three and five-year professional and personal goals. The second step in our Seven Strategies for Flex Success® involves truly understanding what you bring to the table and then capitalizing on it. It’s all about self-reflection and self-esteem.

Over the years we’ve asked professionals about their roads to flex success. “Even if you don’t feel confident, you have to exude confidence,” said one executive. The best way to feel confident is by knowing your strengths and identifying what makes you unique. It’s important to find ways to incorporate these assets and skills into everything you do. This is the value-add that will make you a go-to resource for your colleagues, supervisors and clients, and it’s the lever that provides you with greater choice, including flexibility in your schedule.

As one professional working flex advised:

“Differentiating yourself is critical if you’re hoping to take advantage of a flexible schedule. Once you earn the reputation as a hard worker who produces high quality work, people will want you on their team no matter what your schedule is.”

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The First Step to Ensuring Your Flex Success® – Define Your Success

This is the first of a series of seven blog posts featuring advice on our Seven Strategies for Flex Success®. To learn more, register today for our 2019 Flex Success® Institute, a five-part, virtual professional development program for mid-level professionals working a holistic flex or reduced hours schedule. Program begins April 2, 2019.

The first step to ensuring that you will be successful while working a flexible schedule is to define what success means to you.

seven-strategies-for-flex-successOnce you’ve decided that a flexible schedule is right for you, you need to be able to envision your future plans. As you define your successful, flexible career path you should clearly map out your one, three, and five-year vision. That vision should include what you want personally and professionally and how the two can mesh to define success on your own terms.

Once you are clear on your own goals you can begin to envision your long and short-term plans for your career, your lifestyle, and your family. You’ll also need to think through potential opportunities and obstacles and clearly map out financial and professional development needs. Do you want to be home with your children for an extended leave? Can you afford to work part-time? Do you want to take a sabbatical? Do you have childcare options? Your flexible work plan can then be mapped out to support your aspirations. You’ll be much better able to negotiate the needs of your employer once you have a clear sense of your personal needs.

Over the years we’ve asked countless professionals working flexible schedules about their initial planning stages. Here are some of their words of wisdom…

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Highlighting Wilson Elser’s Bright Spot: Its “WAVE” Subcommittee

 

In 2019, we 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. 

BRIGHT SPOT

A Bright Spot at national law firm, Wilson Elser is its WAVE (Women Attorneys Valued & Empowered) subcommittee within its Diversity & Inclusion Committee. The WAVE subcommittee focuses on the needs of and issues facing women attorneys by overseeing programming at the national and regional levels, including:

– WAVE Makers, which highlights and celebrates the many professional achievements of the firm’s women attorneys;

– Pathway to Success, which provides a forum for committee members and others to share information with women attorneys on compensation and advancement within the firm;

– Leadership Development, which includes a speaker series with subject-matter experts discussing challenges women face in the work place;

– A Mentoring Program that matches women associates with senior attorneys who can provide valuable information and insights on strengthening client service and enhancing their practices. To date, 89 matches have been made in the mentoring program.

IMPACT

The Diversity & Inclusion Committee and its WAVE subcommittee have empowered the women at Wilson Elser and have led to more women taking leadership roles within the firm — in the Chair’s Office, on the Executive Committee, as Practice Group leaders, and as Regional Managing Partners of offices. Attorneys at all levels are participating in the Diversity & Inclusion Committee and its WAVE subcommittee and the programming, addressing issues such as racial and gender bias and wage discrimination, has been very well received.

Additionally, the firm’s most recent class of partner promotions speaks to the strength of its diversity & inclusion efforts and to the strength of the women within the firm. In January of this year, the firm promoted 10 attorneys to equity partner, seven of whom were women, and 19 attorneys to non-equity partner, eight of whom were women. These strong numbers of women promoted outweigh the industry averages of women who occupy these ranks in the top 200 US law firms.

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 downloading and filling out THIS SHORT FORM and emailing it to Jane Caldeira at jane@dfalliance.com.