Insights Archives - Diversity & Flexibility Alliance

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.

 

 

Enhance Your Work Life Control: Be Happy, Choose Your Responsibilities & Make Time for Yourself

This is the last in a series of seven blog posts featuring advice on our Seven Strategies for Flex Success®. Review the first six steps to remind yourself how you get to Step 7 and to help ensure your success while working flexibly:

  1. Define Your Success;
  2. Own Your Value;
  3. Activate Your Mindset;
  4. Create a Strong Personal Brand;
  5. Build Your Networks;
  6. Expand Your Business Development;
  7. Enhance your work-life control.

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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Authenticity: An Essential Aspect of Leadership & Inclusion

This week we were grateful to have Ritu Bhasin of bhasin consulting inc. lead our first of three 2017 Leadership Symposium. Ritu is a globally-recognized expert on leadership and inclusion and is passionate about sharing her knowledge of “Authentic Leadership.”

Ritu’s explanations for why we behave in certain ways and how we can improve our relationships just by being more authentic to our true selves are eye-opening. She shares that authenticity is the foundation on which we build inclusion and therefore is essential to our success as individuals and as leaders. Here are some highlights from Ritu’s presentation for those of you who missed it.

Ritu’s “Authenticity Principle” focuses on the importance of Knowing Yourself, Embracing Yourself and Being Yourself. All three of these are key to success in your personal life, as well as your professional life, and help you to:

– Feel better about yourself;

– Find clarity, meaning and purpose in how you live, work and lead;

– Bring a spirit of authenticity to your interactions;

– Invite others to practice authenticity;

– Build more meaningful relationships;

– Help to create more empowered, engaged, innovative and inclusive organizations.

Ritu described “The Three Selves” or the three different ways we present ourselves:

The Authentic Self – how you would show up if there were no negative consequences for your actions.

The Adapted Self – how you show up when you willingly choose to alter your behavior from how your Authentic Self would act, to meet your needs and others’ needs.

The Performing Self – how you show up when you feel you don’t have a choice but to conform and mask who you are.

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Do You Have the Mindset, Confidence & Grit to Truly Succeed?

This article by Manar Morales, President & CEO of the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance, was written for the Accounting & Financial Women’s Alliance.  Manar is honored to be speaking on “Mindset, Confidence & Grit: Positive Change for Positive Results” at the AFWA’s “Women Who Count Conference” at 2:15 pm on Saturday, October 28 at the Westin Alexandria, VA. Contact the AFWA for more information on registering.  

 

You have a top-notch degree. You’re smart. You’re a hard worker. You know where you want your career to go. But do you have the right mindset to succeed professionally in your organization? Do you have enough confidence in your skills to earn respect and a path to leadership? Do you have the grit and resiliency to overcome barriers?

Many of us are competent, but we lack the true confidence to excel. In fact, research shows that of the thousands of thoughts that run through our minds each day, up to 80% of them are negative. We have to train ourselves to have a positive mindset and fight off the negative thoughts. We also have to learn to stay true to ourselves and not allow other’s opinions and perceptions to influence our goals. By learning how to develop the right mindset, build confidence and maintain grit, we can acquire the traits needed to face difficult situations and grow professionally and personally. It’s so important to learn these skills that can affect all aspects of career development from performance to networking to self-advocacy, and beyond.

So many of the critical steps in career development depend upon your mindset, confidence and grit. When you are defining your success and mapping out your ideal path, it’s essential that you are confident you can reach your goals. It’s critical that these goals include what success looks like to you in the three main areas of your life: home, career and world. I like to call it a “360 approach to life” and it should outline what makes you happy and how you will create significance in these three areas.

When considering what makes you unique and qualified for the next step in your career you have to own your value and be able to advocate for yourself. Additionally, when obstacles do arise in your career path, you must apply a growth mindset and see the challenges as temporary setbacks and potential opportunities for growth. Remember, the only way to create a strong reputation is to believe in yourself and perceive yourself as you’d like others to perceive you. Finally, in most professions, networks, advisors, mentors and sponsors are essential to career success and these individuals can only be supportive if you are confident in your own skills and project that confidence to others.

Whether you’re new to the profession or a seasoned employee, there’s always room to evaluate where you are and where you want to be. Do you need help harnessing your confidence, mindset and grit? Ask yourself these questions:

1 Do my positive thoughts outweigh my negative thoughts?

2. Is there a gap between my thoughts and my actions?

3. Am I being truly authentic (to myself and my goals)?

4. Do I have a growth mindset?

5. Do I take criticism personally?

6. What does success look like for me?

7. Does my vision set me up for happiness in all areas of my life?

8. Are other people’s opinions influencing my goals too much?

9. Do I truly believe in my strengths and abilities?

10. Do I take risks in my career?

11. Am I surrounding myself with positive and supportive peers and co-workers?

12. Am I taking care of myself (nutritionally, physically and emotionally)?

 

Join Manar on October 28 at the AFWA “Women Who Count” conference to learn how to harness your confidence, mindset and grit.

 

 

 

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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