Insights Archives - Diversity & Flexibility Alliance

Is Your Flex Policy Equal Opportunity?

We talk frequently about the myriad benefits of having a flexible work policy. It can be a win-win situation when individuals gain work-life control, clients maintain team consistency, and organizations reduce attrition and thereby retain top talent and reduce recruitment and training costs. Recruiters have traditionally tried to entice prospective employees with promises of flex schedules and family-life balance. It’s always been an assumption that women want flexible work schedules so they can maintain their career while also having and raising children.

 

What About Men?

However, in 2017, millennials are becoming new parents and more men are expecting flexible work schedules and paternity leave to have more work-life control and to spend more time with their children. In fact, according to the Families and Work Institute, millennial fathers are now spending twice as many hours per week with their children as their fathers spent with them in the late 70s and early 80s. Research from the Minority Corporate Counsel Association shows that even those millennials who are not parents cite flexibility as a critical factor in workplace satisfaction.

 

It’s important to remember that while it is the millennials who have made flexible schedules more of a demand, all generations of men want flexible work schedules like reduced hours and telecommuting. A study by Ernst & Young showed that, in fact, “Gen Xers” are the generation of men most likely to walk away from a job where flexibility is not available. The Harvard Business Review has also reported that 87% of Baby Boomer men believe work flexibility is important.

 

It’s increasingly clear that firms and corporations with strong, non-stigmatized, non-gender-specific, flexible work policies will be the most successful at recruiting top talent – both men and women.  Recently Alliance member, Winston & Strawn, erased all reference to gender in its parental leave policy, allowing both men and women to take 20 weeks of leave after having or adopting a baby. (Bravo Winston!)

 

Moving forward, firms and corporations aiming to recruit top talent will need to use their flexible work policies as a recruitment tool for both men and women. This will not only reduce gender bias related to flex schedules but will also send the message that the organization cares about and invests equally in its employees, regardless of gender.

 

Contact us  for more information about how flexible work policies can help your organization attract and retain top talent.

 

We are here to help!

 

5 Ways Our Benchmarking Survey
Benefits Your Firm

Today we are launching our 4th Annual Law Firm Flexibility Benchmarking Survey and we are hopeful a significant number of AmLaw 200 firms will participate. Our survey serves as a unique opportunity for law firms to gain valuable information and insights into the effectiveness of their flexible work policies, the biases that may be present and how they compare to the rest of the industry. Our goal is to help improve individual firm’s flex policies and help to change the culture of the industry as a whole.

Five ways you’ll benefit from participating in our Benchmarking Survey:

  1. An Opportunity for Self-Assessment

By completing the survey, you will, in essence, be performing a self-assessment of your firm’s flexibility policy. The questions on the survey were designed to determine holistic flexible work usage (including reduced hours, telecommuting, flexible start/end times, annualized hours and job sharing) by attorney or staff member position, gender, race and sexual orientation. By evaluating your firm’s answers you’ll have a glimpse into the successes as well as the gaps in your policy and its usage.

  1. It’s a Small Investment of Time for Large Benefits

This year’s survey has been streamlined and modified to reduce the number of questions related to usage data and attrition. The policy-related questions focus on information that is readily available to most flexibility program managers. It is our hope that those completing the survey will be able to do so in a shorter amount of time thereby making it well worth the effort for the critical data gained.

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Are You Ready to Transform Your Approach To Working Flex? In Just Six Hours
You Could Completely Change Your Future

Do you have the right mindset to be successful working flex? Have you taken stock of your professional and personal successes? Do you know how to train your brain for positive results? These and many other questions were answered last Thursday in the first session of the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance’s Flex Success® Institute We want to congratulate those flex professionals who have already set off down this life-changing road by committing to spending a total of six hours with the Institute this summer. The Institute is a five-session virtual professional development program, plus a one-hour individual coaching session, that is guaranteed to transform your approach to working flexibly.

Last week’s participants also learned how to harness the power of goal setting to achieve their vision. They uncovered their biggest confidence killers and discovered how to persevere in the face of failure. They identified their own unique key to empowerment and ways to increase their productivity. They learned about the importance of rituals and risk-taking and how self-care and authenticity are essential. In just one hour these participants already have a step up on building their self-esteem, their career success and finding true happiness in their personal and professional lives.

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Ten Tips From Lauren Rikleen on
Reclaiming Your Career

If you missed last week’s Signature Seminar Series webinar with Lauren Stiller Rikleen, you really missed out on some invaluable advice for finding joy and satisfaction in your career. President of the Rikleen Institute for Strategic Leadership & Visiting Scholar at the Boston College Center for Work & Family, Lauren has spent years researching trends in the legal industry and speaking with leaders of law firms and legal departments. Her book, Ladder Down: Success Strategies for Lawyers from Women Who Will Be Hiring, Reviewing and Promoting You, provides hands-on tips for transforming your career from one that feels overwhelming to one that is truly fulfilling and invigorating.

In a nutshell, these are our notes on Lauren’s ten tips for professionals looking to find more meaning in their careers. However, we highly recommend that you pick up a copy of Ladder Down to fully understand her insights and the advice that she collected from women in leadership around the world.

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Education is the Key to Your Organization’s Flex Success®

When implementing a flexible work initiative, it’s important to remember that everyone in the organization has a role in its success. Whether working a flexible schedule or not, everyone must understand the importance of the policy and fulfill his or her role in supporting it. Flex education tailored to the myriad professionals with differing perspectives throughout the organization is key to the success of the flex policy.

At the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance, we advise organizations to offer three different types of flexibility education customized for three different audiences within your organization:

Flex Professionals must understand their role and responsibilities. Educational components for flex professionals must encompass the importance of understanding exactly what is expected of the individual in the flex agreement. The flex professionals should be trained in the following skills:

    1. Articulating exactly what they hope to achieve through the flex schedule and what they intend to accomplish in their career development;
    2. Demonstrating commitment to their schedules and careers;
    3. Exploring realistic approaches to communications and face-time expectations;
    4. Providing workable solutions to devoting time to important aspects of career development including business development and organizational citizenship;
    5. Maintaining visibility even when physically out of the office;
    6. Leveraging technology;
    7. Handling bias.
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Open Communication on Flex Is Vital to Recruiting the Next Generation

This article, by Manar Morales, President & CEO of the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance, was published in the June 2017 issue of the NALP Bulletin.  We very much appreciated the opportunity to provide this guest article and we are reprinting it here on our blog with permission from NALP.

 

Recruiting the top talent from law schools used to be relatively straightforward. Large law firms enticed students with glossy brochures, “swag bags” of gifts, and six-figure starting salaries. The top payers got the top recruits. In 2017, the equation is not so simple. It’s clear that the new generation of law school graduates is looking for more than a big paycheck. In fact, recent surveys show that compensation isn’t at the top of the list of what they’re looking for in potential employers.

Today’s law school graduates want a firm that shares their generation’s unique values. Millennials want a firm culture that supports corporate social responsibility and pro bono work, teamwork, professional development, mentorship, and, in particular, flexible work options. Even if they don’t need flex right after graduation, they view open communication on flex as a sign that the firm has a culture that supports a work-life balance.

Millennials are the largest and most diverse generation in the workforce today. Because of the relatively small size of their predecessor generation, Generation X, law firms will need to recruit more millennials to fill their partnership ranks in the foreseeable future. In fact, by 2020 millennials will comprise 46% of the workforce. It’s now more important than ever for firms to evolve and address the need for flex and engage this new generation.

While millennials seem to be driving the open conversations on flex, it’s clear that everyone wants it, and everyone needs it at some point in their career. In fact, baby boomers are staying in the workforce longer and are using flex to slowly phase out rather than retire completely. Generation X is now the “sandwich generation” that needs flex to care for children as well as aging parents.

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Business Development: An Integral Part of Your Flex Success®

This is the sixth in a series of seven blog posts featuring advice on our Seven Strategies for Flex Success®. Check back as we walk you through the seven steps that will guarantee your success while working flexibly: Define Your Success; Own Your ValueActivate Your Mindset; Create A Strong Personal Brand; Build Your Networks; Expand Your Ideas on Business Development; and Enhance Your Work-Life Control.

No matter what industry you’re in, it’s always good 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 (Build Your Networks and Personal Board of Advisors). 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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Flex Success® – It Takes a Village

This is the fifth in a series of seven blog posts featuring advice on our Seven Strategies for Flex Success®. Check back as we walk you through the seven steps that will guarantee your success while working flexibly: Define Your Success; Own Your ValueActivate Your Mindset; Create A Strong Personal Brand; Build Your Networks; Expand Your Ideas on Business Development; and Enhance Your Work-Life Control.

Seven Strategies for Flex SuccessMost 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 is 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 for Flex Success™. Check back as we walk you through the seven steps that will guarantee your success while working flexibly: Define Your Success; Own Your ValueActivate Your Mindset; Create A Strong Personal Brand; Build Your Networks; Expand Your Ideas on Business Development; and Enhance Your Work-Life Control.

The Fourth Step to Ensuring Your Flex Success™ –
Create A Strong Personal Brand

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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The State of the Alliance –
Looking Back on a Great Year

As we come to the end of the year, we at the Alliance have been encouraging our members and friends to reflect on their accomplishments and celebrate this year’s successes. We would also like to share with you what we’ve accomplished and where we’ve been this year.

In 2016, we provided trainings and workshops, individual strategic planning sessions, policy drafting advice, culture assessment surveys, and focus groups to our 58 member firms and corporations. We welcomed eight new members and were thrilled to continue to expand our reach into the financial services and consulting industries.

We conducted and analyzed critical research on flexibility and gender diversity in law firms and advised our members on how they could continue to improve in these areas. We were proud that many media outlets covered our research reports, including The Wall Street Journal Blog, Yahoo Finance, The Washington Business Journal, Law360, and Courtroom View Network, among others.

We shared our expertise through countless presentations on topics ranging from women’s leadership, women’s initiatives, mindset, grit, and confidence to managing remote teams, among others. We traveled to Mexico City and around the United States providing insights into and expertise on leveraging the value of diversity and flexibility in organizations.

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