gender-neutral parental leave Archives - Diversity & Flexibility Alliance

Bright Spot: Winston & Strawn’s Gender-Neutral Parental Leave Policy

 

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

One of international law firm Winston & Strawn’s Bright Spots is its Gender-Neutral Parental Leave Policy. After working with the Alliance to clearly identify employee needs and firm goals, Winston & Strawn was able to expand its parental leave policy to better support the demands of today’s families. Implemented in 2016, the policy allows 20 weeks of paid leave for attorneys regardless of gender to care for and bond with a new baby or child. Additionally, parents are not required to designate themselves as “primary” or “secondary” caregivers. The parental leave can be taken at one time or in two increments within a year of the birth or adoption of a child.

Winston also developed a Parental Leave Transition Support Program that includes a Parental Leave Liaison, an external, confidential career coach, and “ramp down” and “ramp up” periods during which billable hours are adjusted to aid in the transition for new parents. The policy applies to all US-based Associates and Of Counsel attorneys. Improvements also were made to the policies for practice attorneys and staff.

IMPACT

By removing the primary and secondary caregiver designations, Winston & Strawn has been able to shift the focus of parental leave from one that focuses on just women to one that focuses on all parents. Since the implementation of the policy, the firm has seen a consistent year-over-year increase in the percentage of men taking parental leave, as well as the length of leave time taken by men. For example, the average length of parental leave taken by men in 2018 was more than double the average length of time taken prior to the implementation of the policy. In addition, in 2018, over 20% of men taking parental leave took 18-20 weeks, in either one or two increments.

The Parental Leave Liaison and coach have been instrumental in helping attorneys maintain their connection to the firm and feel supported before, during and after their leave, with many associates choosing to participate in the firm-provided coaching. The policy has allowed parents at Winston & Strawn to find long-term career success while also caring for their families. Winston received Family Leave category honors in Yale Law Women’s “Top Family Friendly Firms of 2017,” an honor that will undoubtedly impact recruitment.

Since receiving the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance’s 2017 Flex Impact Award, Winston & Strawn has been seen as a trailblazer in the field. The firm is helping to drive innovation and inspire other firms to reevaluate their policies to better meet the needs of today’s families. The Alliance has seen an increase in these types of Gender-Neutral policies which can have a significant impact on the culture of flexibility and can clearly impact recruitment and retention.

Please share your Diversity & Flexibility Bright Spots with us by downloading and completing THIS SHORT FORM and emailing it to Jane Caldeira at jane@dfalliance.com

Honoring the Flex Trailblazers

Note: This post was first published on March 14, 2018 on 1 Million For Work Flexibility’s blog. 1MFWF is the first national initiative bringing people together to create a collective voice in support of work flexibility, and the Alliance is a supporting organization. Thank you to 1MFWF for allowing us to share our news about our 2018 Flex Impact Awards!

As an organization that collaborates with corporations and professional services firms on the development, implementation and management of their flexible work initiatives, we are thrilled when a company goes above what is required by law and beyond what is the norm in their industry. Each year at our annual conference we honor the corporations and firms that we believe are setting the trends in flexibility and truly impacting the workforce.

This year, we have selected tech giant Dell and international law firms Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP and White & Case LLP as our 2018 Flex Impact Award honorees for their initiatives that we believe are poised to have a significant impact on the culture of workplace flexibility. All three of these organizations have demonstrated their willingness to invest in their employees and lead their industries with more progressive approaches to flexible work and leave policies. Each of these initiatives is aimed at better meeting the needs of a new generation of employees, while also positively impacting inclusion, recruitment and retention of top talent.

We will be honoring Dell for its worldwide flexible work initiative, Connected Workplace, which has enabled the corporation to increase employee engagement and retention, conserve natural resources and energy, cut back on real estate expenses and reduce transportation pollution. This initiative encourages all eligible employees to choose where and when they work and provides the technology needed for team collaboration and flexibility training. Additionally employees have access to a resource group, called Conexus, that helps remote team members connect to share best practices, network and develop camaraderie. Dell’s Executive Leadership team has led the initiative by working remotely themselves and emphasizing flexibility as a key component of the company’s culture and integral part of its business strategy.

Fried Frank will be honored for its full-pay, “on-ramping” policy, which allows employees returning from parental leave to gradually return to full-time over a six-month period. Caregivers are thereby allowed to slowly ease their way back into work after leave by working a 75 percent schedule while receiving full compensation. By committing to a relatively small financial investment in its employees who are new parents, Fried Frank has been able to retain employees who might otherwise have been overwhelmed with the stress of full-time work and parenthood.

White & Case will be honored for its new gender-neutral parental leave policy that eliminates the primary and secondary caregiver designation and is also offered to both attorneys and staff. The firm’s policy allows all parents to take 12 weeks of leave any time within 12 months following the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child. By extending the same benefits to attorneys and staff members, no matter the level or position, White & Case has been able to foster a more inclusive environment and demonstrate its commitment to supporting all of its employees.

The 2018 Flex Impact Awards will be presented at the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance’s annual conference Diversity + Flexibility = Embracing Change on March 21, 2018 in Washington, DC. The conference is an interactive, one-day event delivering the latest trends, cutting-edge research and best practices in diversity and flexibility and attracts professionals from all industries. Our conference is designed to provide attendees with the opportunity to hear expert insights and first-hand perspectives from top-level executives and acquire concrete strategies to implement real change in their organizations.

More information and registration for the conference are available here.

Manar Morales is the President & CEO of The Diversity & Flexibility Alliance, and a national thought leader on women’s leadership, diversity, and workplace flexibility. The Diversity & Flexibility Alliance, a 1MFWF supporter, is a think tank dedicated to providing practical solutions that increase organizational effectiveness and create high performance cultures through diversity and flexibility.