diversity and inclusion Archives - Diversity & Flexibility Alliance

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.

 

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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Getting to Know Our Conference Speakers –
Stacia Jones

We’re just one week away!

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 next Thursday, September 27.  We have been introducing these dynamic and engaging speakers during the past few months and sharing their diversity and flexibility insights here on our blog. We 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 Stacia Marie Jones, Esq., Associate General Counsel & Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer at
Abercrombie & Fitch.

Diversity & Flexibility Alliance: What’s the most important message you hope attendees will learn from your panel?

Stacia Jones: The most important message is that to effectively and meaningfully push the needle on diversity in law firms, in-house legal teams must first decide that diversity is important and to then work with law firms that share those same values.

DFA: When the next generation learns about the #MeToo movement what do you hope has changed? 

SJ: That there is no longer a need for the movement because this behavior will not be tolerated.

DFA: What was the most meaningful piece of leadership advice you received? 

SJ: Lead with passion and compassion, in a caring manner that does not alienate or disenfranchise others.

DFA: Who has had the most influence on your career?

SJ: I don’t know that I can name one person, as many individuals have had significant, lasting influences on my career.

DFA: How do you recharge? 

SJ: Spending time with my family and getting in some alone time.

DFA: Where and when are you most content?  

SJ: At home and at church.

DFA: What do you know now that you wish you knew then?  

SJ: Most things work out and that overthinking matters causes undue anxiety and stress that usually does not make matters better. 

DFA: How do you pay it forward? 

SJ: Having a positive influence over colleagues on my team and on those who aspire professionally to have a similar career path.  Working with teenagers at church on professional development.

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

SJ: Ensuring that everyone understands the importance of diversity and the positive impact that inclusivity has on employees. By cultivating an inclusive environment, it encourages everyone to be their whole selves.

It’s not too late to register for next week!

Join us next Thursday, September 27th to hear Stacia’s panel “Making Change Happen from the Outside-In: The Power of Client Persuasion.” Stacia 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 –
Traci Schweikert

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 Traci Schweikert, Vice President of Human Resources at Politico.

Diversity & Flexibility Alliance: What’s the most important message you hope attendees will learn from your panel?

Traci Schweikert: Flexibility is a crucial part of creating a more inclusive workplace. If we continue to lean on policies, programs and benefits that were in place when we first entered the workforce years ago, we aren’t moving forward to create a more welcoming environment.

DFA: When the next generation learns about the #MeToo movement what do you hope has changed?

TS: That women and men will insist on the workplace culture we all deserve.  No one should ever suffer thinking that they have to ‘pay their dues’ by accepting uncivil or inappropriate behavior from co-workers or leaders.

DFA: What was the most meaningful piece of leadership advice you received? Who has had the most influence on your career?

TS: I have had the benefit of working for and with many excellent leaders who offered me opportunities to stretch.  Once the Global CFO of an organization I was working for told me to never apologize for the choices I needed to make as a working mom.  She explained that those choices needed to be a normal part of the workday, not the exceptions of a few.

DFA: How do you recharge? Where and when are you most content?

TS: Time to read feels like a luxury.  I am most content sitting on the couch reading while my boys sit close reading as well.

DFA: What do you know now that you wish you knew then?

TS: I spent too many years trying to create true work-life balance.  What I know now is we all find our rhythm. We pick important moments at work and at home and let the smaller moments go.  I have also learned to lean on my many support systems to help maintain that rhythm.

DFA: How do you pay it forward?

TS: As an executive, my job is to remove obstacles that prevent my team’s good ideas from sprouting.  I pay it forward by magnifying their voices and negotiating for the resources and organizational support they need to make those ideas real.

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

TS: Inclusion happens when each of us steps outside our familiar and commits to one truly new conversation or experience.  We can’t wait for someone else to provide us with an opportunity for diversity or inclusion.  We need to seek it out.

 

Join us for our Annual Conference on Thursday, September 27th and learn how Traci and her fellow panelists are transforming their organizations’ cultures through diversity and flexibility. Their panel, Making Change Happen from the Inside-Out: Industry Leaders Shaping the Organizational Culture, will run from 2:00 – 3:00 pm.

Action Step –
The Building Blocks for a Successful D&I Initiative

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.

A successful diversity and inclusion program requires clear focus, strong implementation of activities to meet delineated goals, and responsibility assigned to key players to effectively lead and engage in these activities. Whether your organization is looking to start a new D & I program or reenergize/resolve an existing one, the Alliance’s building blocks provide guidance for a successful initiative. By following each step in this path – ASSESS, ARTICULATE, ALIGN, and ACTIVATE – your organization can achieve a strong D & I program with specific objectives, focused activities, and measurable outcomes.

ASSESS State: The first critical step is to assess the current state of your organization’s D & I needs with respect to attracting, retaining, and advancing top talent. Organizations often look to see new programs and policies their peers are implementing, but you want to make sure those programs and policies meet the specific needs of your organization. To truly understand your organization’s unique D & I needs, start by analyzing various data points. For example, assess the demographic breakdown at each level of the organization to gain insights into any glass ceiling effects, review exit interviews to see if there is a disproportionate turnover rate with women and/or underrepresented demographic groups, analyze employee opinion surveys to see if there are any D & I issues raised, and review your organization’s check-in meetings with new hires to recognize challenges with recruiting top diverse talent. In addition, you should further investigate any red flags through focus groups and one-on-one interviews in order to gain essential first-person perspectives…

 

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