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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

More organizations are launching gender-neutral parental leave policies so that the amount of caregiving/bonding leave time is the same regardless of gender. According to our 2017 Law Firm Benchmarking Survey, the vast majority of law firms surveyed provided paid gender-neutral leave to attorneys (89% of respondents) and staff (67% of respondents).

There are strong business benefits when all employees utilize parental leave policies. First, there are recruiting and retention advantages. Employees, especially millennials, have indicated that flexibility, work-life control, and family time are important factors when choosing/staying at a job. Second, workplace engagement, productivity, and loyalty will increase when all employees take parental leave by preventing burnout and undue stress. Third, organizations can also lower family healthcare costs by encouraging all employees to take parental leave; new mothers without support face higher medical/mental health issues.  See our Action Step, Paid Leave Policies, for more details on the business benefits of gender-neutral parental leave…

To read this entire Action Step and learn more about gender-neutral parental leave policies become a member of the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance. Contact Eliza Musallam, Director of Membership, for more information. Members can access the complete Action Step in the Member Resource Center

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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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Happy New Year! This year, why not make it your new year’s resolution to celebrate your Bright Spots?

In 2019, we at the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance 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. We also believe that you should celebrate these accomplishments!

We’re hoping that by sharing our members’ and non-members’ Bright Spots, we’ll help to build momentum and encourage a “Ripple Effect” so that organizations will see positive results elsewhere and implement the same strategies at home.

For our inaugural 2019 Bright Spots, we’re celebrating these 42 law firms who had 50% or greater women in their 2018 New Partner Class. (Check out our 2018 New Partner Report Executive Summary for more details.)

  1. Arent Fox
  2. Arnold & Porter
  3. Baker Donelson
  4. Boies Schiller & Flexner
  5. Brown Rudnick
  6. Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner
  7. Cahill Gordon & Reindel
  8. Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton
  9. Cozen O’Connor
  10. Debevoise & Plimpton
  11. Dechert
  12. Dentons
  13. Epstein Becker & Green
  14. Farella Braun + Martel
  15. Foley Hoag
  16. Fox Rothschild
  17. Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy
  18. Gibbons
  19. Goldberg Kohn
  20. Holland & Hart
  21. Jenner & Block
  22. Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel
  23. LeClairRyan
  24. Littler Mendelson
  25. McDermott Will & Emery
  26. Miles & Stockbridge
  27. Morgan, Lewis & Bockius
  28. Morrison & Foerster
  29. Norton Rose Fulbright
  30. Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart
  31. O’Melveny & Myers
  32. Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein
  33. Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman
  34. Saul Ewing
  35. Schiff Hardin
  36. Shutts & Bowen
  37. Sidley Austin
  38. Squire Patton Boggs
  39. Steptoe & Johnson
  40. Thompson Hine
  41. Wiley Rein
  42. Zuckerman Spaeder

Kudos to these firms for their commitment to the advancement of women!

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 emailing manar@dfalliance.com. We’ll be sharing them on our website, in this blog,  and via social media throughout the year.

 

Washington, DC – December 19, 2018 – Today, the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance released its seventh-annual New Partner Report, which revealed a slight increase in the percentage of women among new partners in 2018 in the U.S. Offices of the nation’s largest and top-grossing law firms. While the results showed a seven-year high of 38.9 percent, it was a mere 0.8 percent increase from last year. An Executive Summary of the report is available here. The complete report is available to Alliance members in the Member Resource Center.

“These results highlight the fact that while many recruiting classes of law school graduates may have 50% women, the percentages drop off dramatically as women advance to Partnership levels,“ said Manar Morales, President and CEO of the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance. “This underscores the need for firms to commit to a more intentional and proactive strategy to retain and advance women. It is essential that firms pay more attention to the diversity of the pipeline of talent at least three years in advance of the partnership track, as well as implement more programs to support the advancement of women along the way,” she added.

The Alliance specifically suggests that firms and other organizations:

– Identify and track gaps in gender diversity at all levels;

– Carefully consider ways to balance the pipeline of talent, at senior levels in particular;

– Implement policies and programs that support the retention and advancement of women;

– Commit to a more intentional strategy for gender diversity throughout the firm;

– Address any weaknesses in their flexibility and parental leave initiatives.

The Diversity & Flexibility Alliance’s New Partner Report is a yearly compilation of data from more than 100 (134 this year) of the nation’s largest and top-grossing law firms examining the gender breakdown of attorneys promoted to partnership in their U.S. offices. The data is based upon publicly available firm announcements and other self-reported sources on new partner classes with an effective date of promotion between October 1, 2017 and September 30, 2018. While these are the most favorable results in seven years, with an increase of almost six percentage points since 2012, the percentage of women among new partners in the U.S. has remained relatively stable.

Alliance member firms included in this report averaged 40.5 percent women in their new partner classes, outpacing the national average by over 1.5 percentage points. Alliance members have access to the entire New Partner Report, as well as opportunities for individualized strategic planning sessions focused on improving their gender diversity outcomes.

The Diversity and Flexibility Alliance is dedicated to helping organizations create inclusive cultures that support the advancement of women, promote diversity and embrace flexible work. The Alliance provides practical research-based solutions that increase organizational effectiveness and create high performance cultures while through diversity and flexibility.

 

Contact Manar Morales at manar@dfalliance.com for more information on the report or for guidance on how your firm can advance and retain more women.

Our 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 November 2018, we are pleased to share insights from Adie Olson, PartnerQuarles & Brady (Chicago, IL).

Diversity & Flexibility Alliance: How have you made flexibility a priority and a success within your career? How has the firm supported this?

Adie Olson: Law is actually my second career, but my legal career has come full circle with Quarles & Brady. I was a special education teacher and worked with kids with severe emotional and behavioral issues for five years. I loved teaching, but law was always in the back of my mind. I attended Marquette University Law School as an evening student and started as an associate at Quarles & Brady right after graduation in 2003.

I didn’t think I was interested in working at a large law firm, but an adjunct law professor who worked at Quarles, encouraged me to apply for their summer associate program. The firm broke down any stereotypes I had of “big law” at the time; people were really nice, and they had families and lives outside of the office. I knew it was the right place for me, especially as I started my full-time, legal career with them with a six-week old baby at home!

It was pure luck that when I started at Quarles, they were defending a special education class action law suit. I had the substantive background – maybe not the litigation skills (yet) – for a case full of educational acronyms and was able to hit the ground running. I never set out to be a litigator, but things happen for a reason. There is a serendipity aspect to it, but you also have to be open to opportunities that come your way.

I also believe every lawyer should start off as a litigator. You learn about all aspects of a transaction – what went right/wrong, you develop amazing people skills, and you learn how to be a fantastic lawyer. I can be a very intense person, so litigation brought out the best and worst in me at times. By the time I was a fourth year associate, three of my cases went to trial in one year, I was working long days, and I was pregnant with my second child. This was a turning point for me. My career, as exciting as it was, was not sustainable as-is. I knew I wanted to have more time to spend with my growing family.

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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.

There’s no doubt we live in a data-driven world. If you don’t have good data, you may not be making good decisions.

As an organization that collaborates with firms and corporations on diversity and flexibility initiatives, we at the Alliance always advise our members to gather data by tracking, monitoring and assessing their programs to ensure their ongoing success. If you don’t track and quantify, you’ll never know if your policy is meeting the needs of your employees and is successfully improving your bottom line. Success in the area of flexibility really translates to the recruitment and retention of engaged, fulfilled, effective and diverse talent.

We also take our own advice to heart. We couldn’t provide the advice that we do without backing it up with sound data. Over the last five years we’ve been able to advise our members on the challenges, opportunities and future trends in flexibility in the legal industry by surveying top US law firms. Initially, our benchmarking survey revolved around whether firms actually had a written flexibility policy. The survey has evolved to include expanded questions on different types of flexibility and leave policies offered and the types of employees, by race, gender, sexual orientation and position, who actually use the policy. For example, do attorneys on a partnership track feel comfortable telecommuting? Are those returning from caregiver leave provided support, tools and fair compensation? Does the firm use surveys, interviews, evaluations and pilot programs to ensure that the program is meeting the needs of its employees?

In particular, our survey seeks to help firms uncover and remove biases and thereby allows them to offer policies that can truly impact the success of their business. Firms that participate in our survey are able to benchmark themselves against others in the industry and uncover the gaps in their policies and its usage.

We recently released the results of our 2017 Law Firm Flexibility Benchmarking Survey. The survey, which is available in full to our members and participant firms, (the Executive Summary is available to everyone else) allows us to take a glimpse at the state of the legal industry and predict the most important trends we see moving forward.

From the data, we’re able to advise law firms on how they can lead the industry in recruitment and retention of top talent. Whether it’s through increasing the types of leave policies and expanding their reach, offering extra compensation and additional support following a leave, or simply creating a more inclusive environment that ensures a culture that embraces flexibility, firms that want to meet the needs of the workforce of the future need to be on top of the current trends.

Our Annual Conference on September 27 will highlight the latest research and trends in flexibility and provide attendees with the key steps to take to truly embrace flexibility and its benefits. Register to join us today.

With the New Year just six weeks away, you’re undoubtedly beginning to make your plans for 2018 and developing a strategy for the advancement of your diversity and flexibility initiatives. As you begin to map out your plans, we hope you’ll remember that you have the Alliance to turn to for support. Consider us part of your team. Whether you’re a Diversity & Inclusion professional with increased responsibilities and a decreasing budget, or a human resources executive tasked with bias training, we can help. We can serve as your trusted advisor and, if you’re a member, we encourage you to schedule your Strategic Planning Session soon.

Maybe you’d like to see more women in leadership or you’re wondering why so few professionals are using your flex policy. Our Policy Reviews are one of our most popular Member Benefits and we can help you to identify what’s working and what’s not. If you’ve participated in our Law Firm Benchmarking Study in the past, make sure you make some time to review where your firm stands in comparison to your competitors and where you can improve.

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Do you have the right mindset to be successful working flex? Have you taken stock of your professional and personal successes? Do you know how to train your brain for positive results? These and many other questions were answered last Thursday in the first session of the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance’s Flex Success® Institute We want to congratulate those flex professionals who have already set off down this life-changing road by committing to spending a total of six hours with the Institute this summer. The Institute is a five-session virtual professional development program, plus a one-hour individual coaching session, that is guaranteed to transform your approach to working flexibly.

Last week’s participants also learned how to harness the power of goal setting to achieve their vision. They uncovered their biggest confidence killers and discovered how to persevere in the face of failure. They identified their own unique key to empowerment and ways to increase their productivity. They learned about the importance of rituals and risk-taking and how self-care and authenticity are essential. In just one hour these participants already have a step up on building their self-esteem, their career success and finding true happiness in their personal and professional lives.

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