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.
TAKING THE PULSE OF YOUR WORKFORCE
Before launching any initiative to promote or improve diversity or flexibility within an organization, it’s important to ensure you’re solving for the right problem. That is, rather than rushing to apply the latest industry best practice, the initiative should be tailored to address the particular needs of your organization with input from those who will be impacted. In addition to tracking a variety of workforce metrics, the Alliance recommends seeking that input in a systematic and meaningful way by engaging in one or more of the following three information gathering processes.
Surveys: Conducting engagement or climate surveys can provide a rich set of data points to understand the perception of a variety of diversity, flexibility, and/or other cultural issues within an organization, including what’s going well. These surveys typically take the form of an online questionnaire featuring a series of multiple choice questions for quantitative analysis, as well as a few open-ended questions to allow participants to comment about a specific topic or a range of topics covered by the survey. When developing the questionnaire, the organization should limit inquiry to areas it is prepared to address. Surveying without follow-up action can contribute to low participation in future surveys and even increased frustration among employees due to skepticism about the organization’s commitment to addressing the issues about which it asks…
Attorneys and other professionals who work flexible schedules can experience a sense of isolation from their co-workers that can come from limited face-to-face meetings as well as a decrease in hours. Affinity groups – groups that bring together those with shared identities, interests, and experiences – can help prevent this isolation and lead to increased career advancement and satisfaction.
In fact, Affinity groups can be created around any underrepresented group of individuals such as members of the LGBT community, members of a particular race or ethnicity or those working flexible schedules, but have most commonly been created for women in law firms. Creating an Affinity Group is an excellent way to build community and provide employees with a support system of others who share similar identities or experiences.
Our recent annual conference included panel discussions with leaders from all sectors of the legal industry. One common theme that emerged throughout the day was that clients must help to drive diversity efforts in law firms. Speakers and panelists encouraged clients to “put their money where their mouths are” in demanding diverse teams and warned “if diversity is not a priority for the client, then it won’t be a priority for the firm.”
Last month we welcomed more than 130 attorneys and corporate executives at our 2016 Annual Conference, Diversity + Flexibility = Talent Success. The day was filled with inspirational stories, sound advice, lessons learned, and expert guidance for organizations looking to improve their diversity and flexibility policies.
As we reflect on the successes of the day, we are proud to have had such a diverse group of participants, including general counsel, law firm chairs, diversity directors, and other leaders in the legal field come together to discuss the importance of having a diverse team and the value in having women in leadership positions. While the mindset of the legal community is clearly evolving, there are still many obstacles to overcome before we can truly say women have equal seats at the table.