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September 2021 Spotlight on Flex

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 our September 2021 Spotlight on Flex we are pleased to share insights from Stephanie Salek, Associate, Hollingsworth LLP.

Diversity & Flexibility Alliance: How have you made flexibility a priority and a success with your schedule? How has the firm and/or your clients contributed to this?

Stephanie Salek: After my son was born in 2018 and I took maternity leave, I knew that I wanted to return to work on a reduced-hours schedule.  Hollingsworth said that it would work with me to craft a schedule that fit my needs, and offered several different models of flex time, including a reduced-hours policy in which attorneys can work fewer hours overall at times convenient for them, and a part-time schedule for those who need a set schedule with defined hours of work.  Because my husband’s work schedule is less predictable, I wanted to have a defined work schedule for childcare purposes.  So I decided to try a part-time schedule in which I have set hours and leave at 5:30 pm three days per week, and work remotely 1 day per week.

It has worked out wonderfully.  For my part, I make sure to frontload work on projects by getting new projects off the ground and running immediately, and making a point of checking in on any delegated portions of a project early and often.  And because I am off on Fridays to care for my son, I make sure to do a full status check of each project every Thursday before signing off, so that projects continue progressing while I am offline.  I am grateful that my firm has been so supportive of this flex schedule, and I think our joint commitment to making it work is the reason for its success over the past 2.5 years.

 

August 2021 Spotlight on Flex

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 our August 2021 Spotlight on Flex we are pleased to share insights from Roberta Granadier, Of Counsel, at Dickinson Wright.

 

Diversity & Flexibility Alliance: How have you made flexibility a priority and a success with your schedule? How have the firm and/or your clients contributed to this?

Roberta Granadier: I have been working a reduced schedule for more than thirty years since my first child was born. I intentionally made my work schedule Monday through Thursday to enable me to participate in school activities for my kids when they were younger.  It was also easier for my clients and colleagues to know which days I would be in the office.  Clients have known throughout my career that I work a reduced hours schedule, but I’ve always ensured that they had access to my cell phone number and could reach me in case of emergency. The key for me has been being as responsive and prompt as possible with all of my clients. . In turn, my clients have respected my schedule and have been very apologetic on those times when they’ve needed to reach me on a Friday.

Generally, I have found that law firms are enlightened about reduced work schedules. Part of the reason I have been able to find success in working a flexible schedule is that I simultaneously always provide superior client services while also having a niche legal specialty in ERISA. The combination of having a unique specialty and being indispensable to clients and firms has really allowed me to thrive.

 

DFA: How has working flexibly made your career more sustainable and contributed to business development opportunities?

RG: Working flexibly has made my career more sustainable because I can successfully juggle my work responsibilities with other priorities that are important to me, such as my family, community involvement, and nonprofit activities. These non-work activities have also contributed to business development opportunities.  I continue to be energized by my practice specialty and teamwork with colleagues. 

 

DFA: Looking back, would you do anything differently, or what would you tell your first year associate self?

RG: One thing I would tell myself, and that I would tell anyone considering a flexible work schedule, is to be very candid and specific about your goals and expectations. Personally, I’ve always been up-front with my firms and my clients about when and how many hours I expected to be working. Obviously, this can fluctuate over time based on a number of factors, but I think it is important to remain intentional about my schedule. This candidness has been useful to me in my career, and I have been able to maintain a flexible schedule with multiple firms as a result.

 

DFA: How do you recharge, and how do you pay it forward?

RG: Aside from my family and my community involvement outside of work, I genuinely get recharged by feeling like I am providing value to my firm, my colleagues, and my clients. I recognize that I am an expert in an area of the law that most people don’t know much about, so I enjoy and have benefited from being able to explain complex law in a way that others can understand. For my clients in particular, I am providing them an overview of risks and options that help them make the most informed decisions for their organizations.

As it relates to paying it forward, I’ve always found it important to describe my schedule to other attorneys, especially younger women, who might also be interested in working reduced hours. I’m very open about how my career has developed, and I enjoy sharing with other attorneys how you can have a very successful career with a flexible schedule. Over the years I have also enjoyed participating in recruiting events at our feeder law schools to talk about the arc of my career.

 

DFA: How has the pandemic impacted your flexible working schedule?

RG: I have enjoyed working from home and it is actually easier for me to be more productive with my time.  Especially earlier in the pandemic when a  Saturday seemed the same as a Tuesday, and because I was very busy, I ultimately ended up billing more than previously. This is a good problem to have! Although I do miss seeing my colleagues, it has been easy to connect through Zoom meetings and occasional walks with local colleagues. 

Dickinson Wright’s remote work policy has also allowed me to spend a bit more time doing other things that are important to me. That said, the firm has always allowed attorneys to work flexibly with minimal oversight. This is largely a feature of how the firm trusts its attorneys: we’ve always had a significant amount of professional autonomy. This amount of trust makes Dickinson Wright a very healthy place to practice law and a great place to do so on a flexible work schedule.

 

 

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 long-lasting effect of the COVID-19 pandemic is that the future of work will be different. Organizations needed to adjust overnight and offer flexible work to all employees, and many saw employee productivity and satisfaction go up during this time. Organizational leaders are now thinking through how to continue offering flexible work post pandemic and create a successful flexible work environment. What additional skills, experiences, and resources do employees need? What types of flexible work should we consider?

Flexible work is clearly now a business need to retain and acquire top talent, as well as an important way to foster employee productivity and satisfaction. However, organizations need to be intentional in how they lay the groundwork for flexibility in order to reap the full benefits. We recommend your organization’s pandemic task force use our 4Es Discussion Framework to discuss building or revamping your flexible work initiatives post-pandemic.

Continue Reading in the Member Resource Center

To read this entire Action Step become a member of the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance. To further discuss your flexible working initiative during and after the pandemic, contact Manar Morales.

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.