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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 and employees have faced significant struggles during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, one positive that’s developed from the pandemic is that many organizations, even those historically against flexible work, have adjusted to employees working remotely and flexibly. Now is the time to collect data and build a business case for flexible work to continue after the pandemic ends. Monitor experiences and measure employee productivity, satisfaction, and effectiveness to understand what worked and what didn’t in order to pave the way for the future of flexible work:

  1. Survey to Understand Experiences & Needs. Survey employees to collect data around flexible work during the pandemic. The survey should include questions specific to why things worked or why they didn’t so you can make improvements: What types of technology would have made remote work smoother? Did supervisors help balance work and personal obligations? Did managers maintain connections during this time? By gathering this type of data, you can make changes, as necessary, to improve employee productivity and effectiveness. You’ll also have a better understanding of challenges specific to the pandemic so you can address these matters with flexible work skeptics. For example, if an organizational leader states that hours were down in his/her department, you’ll be able to show this was related to less work available in that area due to the pandemic rather than issues with telecommuting. 

Continue Reading in the Member Resource Center

To read this entire Action Step become a member of the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance. To further discuss ways to collect and use data during the pandemic, contact Manar Morales

In an effort to inform and inspire our members and friends, we often share diversity and flexibility Bright Spots – those small or large successes that impact an 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

Kutak Rock’s operating procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic are clear Bright Spots that demonstrate its people-first philosophy. Before the COVID-19 National Emergency was declared on March 13, 2020, the firm’s Regional Managing Partner for D.C. and Virginia had begun discussions with firm leadership about operating procedures aimed at keeping people safe at home and working. The procedures, which remain today and apply to all staff and attorneys, allowed for 100% remote working on a “reason-neutral” basis.

Kutak Rock leadership worked with each employee on a case-by-case basis to ensure that everyone continued to be productive and maintain their positions and their employment status while working remotely.  The focus continues to be on keeping all employees and offices safe from COVID (first and foremost) and helping every individual become productive in this unique COVID work environment.

The firm also made it a priority to provide several training sessions focused on remote learning, including:

  1. A weekly set of training options about the logistics of remote work (submitting time, setting up a printer, security, etc.);
  2. A seminar attended by over 90% of the firm’s associates focused on ongoing professional development in a remote work environment;
  3. Annual inclusiveness training with information about creating inclusive working teams in remote and hybrid remote/in-person environments; and,
  4. A session with firm leadership with information about building teams in a remote or hybrid remote/in-person environment.

In addition, the firm created a guide for employees and a guide for leadership with tips for working remotely. All employees were also provided a resource kit with information about inclusiveness and bias in remote environments.

In keeping with its “people-first” mindset, the firm continues to communicate with employees on a regular basis about the performance of the firm in an effort to relieve anxiety and stress caused by COVID-related uncertainty and countless legal industry articles talking about furloughs, lay-offs, and firms with difficult financial situations.  The firm also, repeatedly, reminds employees to take care of their mental and physical health.  The firm sent information about benefits available to all employees related to mental and physical health and has created a Mindfulness Group that has met every Friday since the beginning of April.

Kutak Rock has made it a priority to maintain its commitment to diversity and inclusion during the shut-down. Since March 11, the firm has finished all of the tactics in its three-year inclusiveness, diversity, and engagement strategic plan, developed the goals and tactics for its new three-year strategic plan, and has had the plan approved by the Executive Committee.  In addition, the firm ran its annual training program (by Zoom) with well over half of the firm attending and 80+% of leadership attending.  Affinity groups continue to meet and new initiatives have been added.

IMPACT

While some Kutak Rock offices have allowed employees to return to the office for limited amounts of time and a targeted purpose in recent weeks, almost all employees continue to work remotely. Many employees voiced their appreciation for the firm’s focus on their and their community’s safety.

Over the long-term, the COVID-specific operating procedures will be transformed into a flexible working arrangement policy similar to the current procedures. The primary goals will continue to be focused on allowing flexible working arrangements, on a reason-neutral basis, while also maintaining the function of the team in a way that supports the clients, individuals and firm.

 

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

The Diversity & Flexibility Alliance is accepting nominations for our annual Flex Success® Award. The award recognizes partners at member law firms who are successfully working a reduced hours schedule and acknowledges the crucial role clients play in making workplace flexibility a reality. The Award honors attorney/client relationships that best exemplify how, with client support, attorneys can achieve greater work-life control and have extraordinarily successful careers.
The Award will be shared by:
  1. A successful partner at an Alliance member firm who is currently working a reduced hours schedule and has done so for a year or more; AND
  2. A client, to be chosen by the partner, who has contributed to the success of the arrangement.
Nominations can be made by any Alliance member firm, legal department, or by self-nomination. All partner nominees must be from an Alliance member organization.
Honorees must be able to virtually accept their awards at our annual conference (also going forward virtually) on November 5, 2020, Moments of Impact: Transforming Organizational Culture.
DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS IS JULY 15, 2020.
Submit the Nomination Form, (this is a fillable PDF; please download a copy first and then fill in responses), and once complete, email your nomination or any questions to Jane CaldeiraManager of Communications. Please include a link to or attach the Nominee’s bio. All nominations will be acknowledged within 24 hours of receipt.

Progressive Parental Leave and Flexible Work Programs Becoming a Major Industry Priority

Washington, DC – February 26, 2020 – The Diversity & Flexibility Alliance announced today that the results of its 2019 Law Firm Flexibility Benchmarking Study show that the industry is making measurable improvements to the quality and breadth of its parental leave and flexible work policies.

This study consisted of one-on-one interviews with leaders and talent professionals from 50 major law firms and serves to provide multilayered trends, insights and data about successes and challenges with parental leave and flexible work programs and practices. The goal of the initiative is to examine the availability and accessibility of holistic flexible work and parental leave policies, in particular, the types of policies, the features of these policies, and the support/resources around these policies.

The study found that virtually all firms interviewed have continued to offer formal gender-neutral leave and flexibility to attorneys, and many also offer on-ramping (gradual return-to-work) programs to attorneys returning from parental leave. Additionally, a significant number of firms are demonstrating a strong commitment to these policies by removing caregiver designations, increasing the amount of paid leave time generally, and offering fully-paid on-ramping.

However, the study also found that more firms need to provide better support structures around flexible work programs in order to promote better usage, true acceptance and accessibility for all. More firms should focus on offering education around flexible work, flexible work affinity groups, true-up policies to compensate reduced hours lawyers who work more than their agreed upon schedule, and more comprehensive and consistent monitoring mechanisms. Additionally, the study revealed that there is a substantial, qualitative gap between staff and attorney parental leave and flexible work programs.

“We are cautiously optimistic that the majority of firms are beginning to understand that by making minor adjustments to their leave and flexible working policies they can reap major benefits and meet the needs of a new generation,” said Manar Morales, President & CEO of the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance. “We are encouraged that many firms are committing to more progressive parental leave initiatives, however, we hope more firms will commit to building more robust and inclusive policies for all attorneys and staff,” she added. “These relatively inexpensive tools can mean the difference between retaining and loosing a valuable employee at a pivotal time in their lives,” she added.

The report is available to members of the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance (in the Member Resource Center), as well as other participating firms. Detailed results and analysis will be presented during the Alliance’s Flex Launch! NYC – A Boot Camp for Flex Advisors – on Thursday, March 12 (open to non-members). To access this report, contact Manar Morales for more information on Membership.

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 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.

Contact: Manar Morales

manar@dfalliance.com

202-957-9650