Flex Success® Archives - Diversity & Flexibility Alliance

Spotlight on Flex – Lori Mihalich-Levin and Dr. Cindy Kelley

The Spotlight on Flex showcases professionals from member organizations who exemplify personal and professional success while working a flexible schedule. Their stories illustrate the long-term benefits that flexible schedules offer to both individuals and organizations.

This month’s Spotlight on Flex features our 2018 Flex Success® Award Honorees, Lori Mihalich-Levin and her client, Dr. Cindy Kelley. The Flex Success® Award recognizes partners at Alliance member organizations who have achieved a high level of success while working a reduced hours schedule as well as a client who has been integral to making workplace flexibility so successful. We wanted our members to have the chance to get to know this year’s Honorees a little earlier, and we are looking forward to formally presenting their awards at our rescheduled Annual Conference on September 27, 2018 in Washington, DC.

Lori focuses her practice on Medicare reimbursement counseling, with a special focus on Medicare graduate medical education (GME) payments to teaching hospitals. She represents academic medical centers, teaching hospitals, community hospitals, and health systems, as well as a broad array of other health care organizations.

Lori has worked a 60% reduced hours schedule while representing hospitals, academic medical centers, medical schools and health systems as a Partner in Dentons Healthcare Practice since August 2015 in Washington, DC. In just two years, she was able to bring in 20 new clients to the firm and build a premier practice around legal issues related to graduate medical education. Her reduced hours schedule has allowed her to care for her two small children, while also building Mindful Return, LLC, a personal business that assists new parents in their transition back to work from parental leave, and writing a book Back to Work After Baby: How to Plan and Navigate a Mindful Return from Maternity Leave. She is also the Chair of the firm’s Flexibility and Parental Leave Task Force, part of its Women LEAD initiative, where she champions the success of diverse attorneys and has been instrumental in updating the firm’s parental leave policies.

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Dentons Partner and Client Honored for Success While Working Flexible Schedule

Alliance to Present 2018 Flex Success® Award at Annual Conference March 21

Washington, DC – March 2, 2018 – Today the Diversity and Flexibility Alliance announced that its 2018 Flex Success® Award Honorees will be Lori Mihalich-Levin, Partner at Dentons in Washington, DC, and her client Dr. Cindy Kelley, Vice President of Medical Education at Summa Health. The award recognizes partners at Diversity & Flexibility Alliance member law firms who have achieved success while working a reduced hours schedule as well as a client who has been integral to making workplace flexibility so successful. The Award will be presented on March 21, 2018 at the Alliance’s annual conference, Diversity + Flexibility = Embracing Change, in Washington, DC. Registration is available here.

“Not only has Lori managed to reach high levels of career success while working a reduced hours schedule, but she is also truly passionate about helping to grow the pipeline of women leaders and supporting other working parents,” said Manar Morales, President and CEO of the Alliance. “With the support of her colleagues at Dentons and her clients, including Summa Health, Lori has grown her personal business and cared for her children while providing top-notch client service,” she added.

Lori Mihalich-Levin

Ms. Mihalich-Levin has worked a 60% reduced hours schedule while representing hospitals, academic medical centers, medical schools and health systems as a Partner in Dentons Healthcare Practice since August 2015. In just two years, she was able to bring in 20 new clients to the firm and build a premier practice around legal issues related to graduate medical education. Her reduced hours schedule has allowed her to care for her two small children, while also building Mindful Return, LLC, a personal business that assists new parents in their transition back to work from parental leave, and writing a book Back to Work After Baby: How to Plan and Navigate a Mindful Return from Maternity Leave. She is also the Chair of the firm’s Flexibility and Parental Leave Task Force, part of its Women LEAD initiative, where she champions the success of diverse attorneys and has been instrumental in updating the firm’s parental leave policies.

“Ultimately the key to a successful flexible work arrangement is to be flexible and transparent,” explained Ms. Mihalich-Levin. “I am so thankful for the trust, support and encouragement that Cindy has offered me as well as her willingness to accommodate my schedule,” she added referring to her client, Dr. Cindy Kelley, Vice President of Medical Education, Summa Health.

Dr. Cindy Kelley

“Lori and her Dentons team were critical to our success in overcoming significant challenges at our organization last year. I am so thankful for people like Lori who have a passion for finding that balance in life that allows them to pursue their careers while raising a family,“ stated Dr. Cindy Kelley. “Summa Health certainly benefited from this passion, as do all organizations that support workplace diversity and flexibility.”

“Dentons is committed to supporting our lawyers and professionals who work on a reduced hours or flexible schedule and applaud the effort of forward-thinking lawyers like Lori Mihalich-Levin,” said Mike McNamara, CEO of Dentons. “We also applaud our client Summa Health for embracing Lori’s flexible work arrangement. We firmly believe that flexibility results in positive changes that benefit the firm, the client, and our lawyers’ careers.”

The Diversity and Flexibility Alliance is a think tank that collaborates with organizations to develop non-stigmatized flexible work policies that promote inclusive work cultures for all and help to advance more women into leadership positions. The Alliance provides practical research-based solutions, training workshops, and strategic advisory services that increase organizational effectiveness through diversity and flexibility.

For more information contact:

Manar Morales

manar@dfalliance.com

202-957-9650

Spotlight on Flex – Rebecca Springer

The Spotlight on Flex showcases professionals from member organizations who exemplify personal and professional success while working a flexible schedule. Their stories illustrate the long-term benefits that flexible schedules offer to both individuals and organizations.

For February 2018, we are pleased to share insights from Rebecca Springer, Partner, Crowell & Moring  (Washington, DC). 

Diversity & Flexibility Alliance: How have you made flexibility a priority and a success through your schedule?

Rebecca Springer: I started at Crowell & Moring as a first year associate after I graduated from law school. I knew I wanted to be in DC, and I knew I wanted to focus on labor and employment law. However, I also started at the firm thinking I would stay for a few years, make enough money to pay off my student loans, grow my legal experience, and then leave to figure out what I really wanted to do! No one was more surprised than I was when the firm turned out to be a great place for me to build a career. I’ve been fortunate to work at a great firm, with great people, do really interesting work, and have a fulfilling career, all the while being able to get married, have a family, and enjoy other outside interests like performing in a local singing group.

While I was mid-career, I thought about leaving because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to stay on the partner track. At the time, I thought the only alternative was to leave the firm and pursue something else. I talked with my practice group leaders, and they made it clear they wanted me to stay – my trajectory didn’t have to be a traditional path to partnership. They asked me what I wanted, and what I thought would be a realistic career path in order to stay; they let me know I was valued from the start. So for the past 10 years, I’ve worked reduced hours (ranging between 75% – 85%), and while working this flex schedule, I became a partner in January 2018.

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Action Step – Monitor & Measure Flex Success®

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.

One of the key, but most overlooked, steps in the Alliance’s Flex Success® Framework is to Reinforce Flex Success® by regularly monitoring and measuring flex programs. Through this process, organizations can more effectively assess, improve, publicize, and build upon flex programs. As a number of law firms and corporations have started to expand their flexible work offerings, we need to focus on what’s working, what we need to improve, how to share successes, and what additional flex programs we should consider. By doing this, we can gain true acceptance of flex programs in order to promote usage and reduce flex bias. Here are some specific ways to monitor and measure your flex programs:

Surveys: Surveys are a great way to collect information and metrics from a large workforce in an efficient manner. Organizations can conduct annual surveys to understand the importance employees place on flexibility, whether employees have the flexibility they need, the types of flexible work arrangements most appreciated, how often formal and informal flexible work options are utilized, and additional types of flexible work arrangements needed. These responses can help build a business case for the need to offer and expand flexible work arrangements. If you conduct a general employee opinion survey, see if these flex-related questions can be added and compared with responses from other questions related to employee satisfaction/commitment to demonstrate how flexibility impacts these areas.

Interviews: Interviews and focus groups with employees are a great way to gain more detailed information as to what’s working and what’s not. Think about adding questions relating to flexibility in exit interviews and check-in meetings with new employees. In order to understand the impact of flexibility on turnover, ask employees during exit interviews if they felt like they had the flexibility they needed, if they would have stayed if they had more flexibility, and what types of flexible work options they would have wanted. In order to understand the impact of flexibility on recruiting, ask new employees during check-in meetings the reasons why they chose to join your organization and how important flexibility is to them.

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Action Step – Top 10 Takeaways Vital to the Success of Your Flexible Work 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

 

Recent news articles have highlighted a few companies that have revoked their flexible work policies citing a loss of teamwork and productivity. It’s likely these flex initiatives failed due to either a lack of planning, analysis, structure, communication, education, and/or tracking. When it comes to developing your organization’s flexible work initiative, there are key components that need to be addressed to ensure its success. Here are our top 10 takeaways to consider when developing your flex policy:

  1. Understand that Flex is a Real Business Benefit

The foundation of a flexibility initiative must be the business case. Why does flexibility matter to you, and how will it improve your numbers? (Think about recruitment, retention, and the bottom-line.) Even the most change-resistant organizations are realizing there’s a war for talent out there, and they must evolve to keep up. Research shows that non-stigmatized, flexible work strengthens organizations by increasing tenure among employees and leads to stronger client/customer relationships, better recruitment, and greater profitability. Flexibility is not about being nice to your employees or providing an accommodation – it’s a true business imperative.

  1. Count Your Regrettable Losses

The easiest way to formulate your business case for flexibility is to count your regrettable losses. How many valuable and talented employees have walked out the door because of a lack of flexibility? You can take the organization’s business case further by considering the opportunities the firm has gained because of its flexibility or lost because of its lack of flexibility…

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Spotlight on Flex – Indira Sharma

The Spotlight on Flex showcases professionals from member organizations who exemplify personal and professional success while working a flexible schedule. Their stories illustrate the long-term benefits that flexible schedules offer to both individuals and organizations.

This month, we are pleased to share insights from Indira Sharma, Counsel and Chair of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee, Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP (Baltimore, MD).

Diversity & Flexibility Alliance: How have you made flexibility a priority and a success through your schedule?

Indira Sharma: I started working at Saul Ewing right after I graduated from law school in 2006 and was on a full time schedule from 2006-2010. After I had my first child at the end of 2009, I returned to work reduced hours at 65 percent for about a year before transitioning to 70 percent reduced hours. I don’t have a set schedule; as it is with the practice of law, it just depends on the day. Instead of focusing on what days I’m in the office or not, I focus on making myself available. When there’s extra time, I spend it taking care of more things at home for my family and the community.

It’s been trial and error to get to this point. At first I thought I would take a certain weekday off, but I realized it wasn’t realistic as a litigator. So when there are family commitments, I work around them just as I would work around a deposition schedule. There are times where I’ve had to bend for work and times when I’ve had to bend for my personal life – it just depends what’s more important at the moment.

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Spotlight on Flex – Wendy Sugg

The Spotlight on Flex showcases professionals from member organizations who exemplify personal and professional success while working a flexible schedule. Their stories illustrate the long-term benefits that flexible schedules offer to both individuals and organizations.

This month, we are pleased to share insights from Wendy Sugg, Counsel, Troutman Sanders (Orange County, CA).

Wendy SuggDiversity & Flexibility Alliance: How have you made flexibility a priority and a success through your schedule?

Wendy Sugg: I started working for a firm in New York, followed by a two-year clerkship for the Southern District of NY. There wasn’t a lot of flexibility in my schedule while in New York, but it was great training. I always knew I would come back to California – the idea of having to rent a car to get out of town was insane to me! I moved back here in 2003 and was a litigator at my first California firm for eight years. While there, I started doing a lot of employment litigation, and as I became more senior, I started thinking about specializing. It was a natural fit to stick with employment matters. I started looking for a full-service firm where I could continue to specialize, build a book of business, and have other departments to help with that too.

I found another firm that checked these boxes, and a year and a half later, I had my son. At the time, he had weekly medical appointments, and I wanted one day a week off in order to accommodate his needs and focus on his care. It was a great arrangement with my previous firm, and I started to build a good network and book of business. I was formally on a 75 percent, reduced hours schedule and came into the office four days a week.

I came to Troutman Sanders three years ago; they had no employment litigators or employment practice on the West Coast. It was another great opportunity to build my expertise and practice here. I was clear during the interview process that I wanted to continue working at a reduced hours schedule (now at 80 percent) because my son had just turned two, and we were still taking care of his medical needs. I felt comfortable asking for flexibility right from the start because it was what I needed. The firm had no issues with this, matched my salary, and brought me on as a direct lateral hire. In other words, instead of focusing on my schedule, we focused on developing a business and marketing plan. There wasn’t an employment attorney on board yet, and the firm had immediate business needs such as counseling clients and their employees during transition periods (such as post-merger or acquisitions).

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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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Spotlight on Flex – Sarah Kuehnel

The Spotlight on Flex showcases professionals from member organizations who exemplify personal and professional success while working a flexible schedule. Their stories illustrate the long-term benefits that flexible schedules offer to both individuals and organizations.

This month, we are pleased to share insights from Sarah Kuehnel, Associate, Ogletree Deakins, St. Louis, MO

Diversity & Flexibility Alliance: How have you made flexibility a priority and a success through your schedule?

Sarah Kuehnel: Flexibility has always been important to me because my husband has been in the military my entire career. As a second year associate at Ogletree, I first switched to a flex schedule in late 2010 because he was being deployed in January 2011. The firm was incredibly generous and let me adjust my schedule to a 50 percent reduced-hours target for the last two months of that year.

In 2011, my husband was selected for the Army Special Forces. We consciously decided that his career would take precedence since it had a tangible time limit (both from a physical and career development aspect). I was passionate about my career too, but with a limited amount of time, my husband had to advance in his career first. My original thought was to quit the firm since his career would require us to move and live in several different states over the next few years. I went to the managing shareholder to discuss my options. Rather than let me quit, Ogletree once again, was incredibly supportive, and agreed to let me work 100 percent remotely out of the St. Louis office on an hourly basis. Because the arrangement was a success, in 2014, I went to a 75 percent reduced-hours schedule. I now work at an 85 percent reduced-hours schedule – all the while continuing to work remotely for the St. Louis and now Tampa offices.

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