Action Steps


 

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. For July 2019, we are pleased to share this Guest Action Step by Contributing Author Lily Zheng.

Lily Zheng is a diversity, equity, and inclusion consultant and executive coach working to create innovative and inclusive workplaces. You can hear more insights from Lily’s book, Gender Ambiguity in the Workforce: Transgender and Gender-Diverse Discrimination, in her presentation at the Alliance’s Annual Conference on November 7, 2019.

Despite the increased visibility of transgender, non-binary, and other gender-expansive communities in media and popular culture, workplaces struggle with creating meaningful inclusion. Thirty percent of trans employees report experiencing workplace discrimination in the form of harassment, mistreatment, denial of opportunities, and even physical and sexual violence. Organizations committed to ending discrimination and creating inclusion must take a multi-pronged approach that creates sustainable, structural change.

Enlist Managers. Companies are only as inclusive as their middle managers, and an inclusive manager can be a powerful champion against discrimination. Because managers establish team culture, model inclusion (or exclusion) by example, and strengthen (or weaken) employee trust in the organization, their presence is the strongest determinant of trans employees’ experiences in the workplace.

To learn more about creating an inclusive culture and becoming a member of the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance, contact Eliza Musallam, Director of Membership. Members can access the complete Action Step in the Member Resource Center

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.

While telecommuting has taken place on an informal and ad hoc basis for years, more organizations are implementing formal, written remote work policies. According to our 2017 Law Firm Benchmarking Survey, 61% of respondents indicated that their formal flexible work policies for attorneys included telecommuting. Remote work is an important job feature for many employees, and a formal telecommuting policy is an effective way to set parameters and expectations around working outside of the office.

However, organizations still struggle with gaining traction with their telecommuting policies. Common issues include: How do we make sure employees know about it? How do we increase usage rates? How do we make sure employees are teleworking in accordance with the firm’s policy? Here are some ways to overcome these issues and gain momentum with your telecommuting policy.

To learn more about effectively communicating about your organization’s telecommuting policy and becoming a member of the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance, contact Eliza Musallam, Director of Membership. Members can access the complete Action Step in the Member Resource Center

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.

Organizations are expanding parental leave policies and offering additional resources for new parents. A common challenge, however, is the utilization of the expanded policies. Similarly, employees and new hires often comment about their lack of knowledge of the parental leave policies and resources available to them. Even though more organizations are starting to pay closer attention to their parental leave policies, it’s equally important how they are communicated and publicized. By using our multi-step “EMAIL” communication strategy, you can increase recruiting and retention by highlighting your parental leave policies and resources.

EDUCATE YOUR LEADERS: Leaders at the organizational, office, and practice group levels should be familiar and aware of parental leave policies; this can be done through new leader training and orientation. Enlist champions among your leaders who will host office/organizational meetings that specifically communicate parental leave policies to employees. Not only does this help with communication efforts, it also increases utilization and reduces bias.

To learn more about effectively communicating about your organization’s leave policies and becoming a member of the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance, contact Eliza Musallam, Director of Membership. Members can access the complete Action Step in the Member Resource Center

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 common barrier to launching new and expanded flexible work programs/policies is convincing organizational leaders of the long-term business benefits with recruiting, retention and productivity. Common questions include: What are peer organizations doing? Do our employees really care about flex? Is the cost really worth the benefit? Is the benefit too tenuous to measure? The Alliance can show you how to make it “RAIN” with your organizational leaders by demonstrating the business benefits of holistic flex.I

REVIEW EXTERNAL TRENDS: Company leaders may ask what peer organizations are doing in the area of flex. It’s important to review detailed industry surveys and current data such as the Alliance’s annual New Partner Report and our Law Firm Flexibility Benchmarking Survey, which contains data, trends, and statistics. When reviewing external surveys, look for trends in the types of programs peer organizations are launching. Make note of statistics and data to support your pitch with leaders. It’s also important to look at common challenges in your industry. Is there a glass ceiling for women at top leadership levels? Are employees commonly leaving traditional jobs for more flexible or alternative employers? Are there any niche areas losing traction in your industry? By thinking through common industry challenges and creating policies/programs to address them, you can be a trailblazer and gain recruitment and retention benefits.

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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.

Organizations utilize affinity groups to build community among employees with shared identities, interests, and/or experiences. While fostering a sense of community is an important element of affinity groups, they can also lead to additional far-reaching organizational benefits. For example, affinity groups can provide training, push for new policies, and serve as a focus group to uncover challenges and bright spots to support the advancement of underrepresented groups. According to our 2017 Law Firm Flexibility Benchmarking Survey, one-third of our survey participants have a working parents affinity group and over 20% have a flex affinity group in place. While it’s a step in the right direction for more organizations to utilize affinity groups, it’s important to strategically think through the structure of the group and its roll-out in order to reap the most benefits.

CLARIFY FOCUS: Our action step, It Takes a Community, explains that all affinity groups should focus on three overarching pillars – promoting community, fostering training and development, and monitoring the progress and challenges. Think through the specific goals within each of these pillars you hope to achieve; this way the group will have a targeted mission and clear milestones to measure success. We recommend conducting a quick survey before launching any new group to better understand your employees’ specific interests, needs, and challenges in this area.

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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.

Affinity groups are an effective way to build a community, share best practices, and promote policies and programming in targeted areas. A number of organizations have working parents affinity groups, as it’s a great way for parents to bond and discuss success stories and challenges. According to our 2017 Law Firm Flexibility Benchmarking Survey, one-third of our survey participants have a working parents affinity group in place. However, a number of organizations have begun to expand their working parents affinity group to a broader caregivers affinity group. This would include all caregivers, including parents and those caring for elderly and ill family members. By expanding to a caregivers affinity group, organizations become more inclusive and recognize that all caregivers face similar challenges (i.e. billable hours requirement, flexible work needs, implicit bias, etc.). Organizations should keep certain considerations in mind in order for a caregivers affinity group to meet broader goals.

EXPAND GOALS: Think through the desired goals and focus of the new group. Without carefully considering your goals, you run the risk of simply changing your working parents affinity group in name only without any real meaningful transformation. We recommend conducting a survey, focus groups, insight interviews, and/or check-in meetings. This way, you can better understand the needs and interests of any new/expanded affinity group to help you shape the focus and priorities…

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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.

If you Google the term “Bright Spots,” you’ll find the heart-warming story of a Save the Children Fund missionary named Jerry Sternin who helped save an entire community of malnourished children in Vietnam. Rather than focus on what the families of the children were doing wrong, Jerry chose to focus on the few children in the community who were healthy and thriving – the “Bright Spots.” His theory was if all the families could replicate what the Bright Spot mothers were doing, then the entire community could benefit and change for the better.

Sternin called his approach “positive deviance” – focusing on what individuals are doing right, rather than what others are doing wrong.

While most of us are not in the position of saving lives, this Bright Spots theory is also effective in business. In fact, change experts and authors, Dan and Chip Heath, often advise organizations to “find a Bright Spot and clone it.” They recommend focusing on what’s working instead of emphasizing what isn’t and what needs to be fixed.

We couldn’t agree more…

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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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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.

In order to recruit and retain top talent, organizations need to offer flexible work options to stay competitive. One of these options, telecommuting, has increased in use and popularity, and millennials in particular value, desire, and expect the ability to telecommute. As organizations become more global and more employees need to travel and work off-site, telecommuting has moved from a form of flexible work to being a business operations necessity. Organizations are also utilizing telecommuting as a way to cut real estate and overhead costs. When employers provide resources and support to help telecommuters succeed, they set themselves apart in terms of recruitment, retention, and productivity.

Employers should clearly communicate tactics and provide support to help remote workers succeed, both in terms of fostering effective team and individual productivity, as well as long-term career success. But like all forms of flexibility, successful telecommuting is a two-way street. Telecommuters need to: maintain visibility by having an active presence, foster relationships with key sponsors and mentors, be responsive, communicate their workload, proactively solicit feedback, be flexible about schedules, and maintain a professional workspace in order to reduce distractions and maintain focus…

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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.

The following are highlights from the many words of wisdom shared by our dynamic and engaging 2018 Annual Conference panelists and speakers:

– Nicole Collier, Director of Policy & Public Affairs, Nestlé: We see this urgency to address diversity and inclusion from the investor community. This needs to be a company-wide discussion where you can talk about differences outside of the workplace.

– Vipula Gandhi, Managing Partner, Eastern US, Gallup Inc.: Experiences matter, and the war for talent is more. Employees are looking and leaving; the world of work is evolving; there are more women and millennials; and when, why, and how we work has changed. Millennials need purpose, want a coach, and care about learning and development versus just having a job.

– Michelle Gold, Partner & Governance Committee Member, Fried Frank (2018 Flex Impact Organization Honoree): We want our associates back for their careers. The key has been communication, and no one size fits all. A person’s job is to speak up, and everyone has to share information.

– Sarah Goldfrank, Senior Vice President & Deputy General Counsel, Fannie Mae: We need to walk the walk and not just talk – that isn’t fair to employees. We have to ask what have we done to increase diversity within and beyond the company and hold ourselves accountable.

 

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