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This article written by Manar Morales, President & CEO of the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance, is published in the July 2019 issue of Modern Legal Practice. Read on to learn why flexibility is your organization’s new business imperative.

The culture in law firms around the globe is slowly evolving and changing with the times. Once only known for its grueling office hours, inflexible schedules and high turn-over rates, the legal industry is slowly beginning to embrace a new normal; one that offers and supports flexible working arrangements. Traditionally seen as a perk for employees, flexibility has now become the new business imperative.

Law firm leaders, who have long endured regrettable losses and challenges with recruitment and retention, are now reaping the benefits of flexibility — enhanced productivity, higher innovation, improved talent recruitment and retention, increased employee satisfaction and, most of all, a stronger bottom line.

As an industry that provides professional services, the sustainability of a law firm correlates directly with its ability to recruit and retain the best talent. Each year, competition for top legal talent increases and a firm’s ability to offer flexibility is vital to its ability to win the war on talent and mitigate regrettable losses…

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This is the first of a series of seven blog posts featuring advice on our Seven Strategies for Flex Success®. To learn more, register today for our 2019 Flex Success® Institute, a five-part, virtual professional development program for mid-level professionals working a holistic flex or reduced hours schedule. Program begins April 2, 2019.

The first step to ensuring that you will be successful while working a flexible schedule is to define what success means to you.

seven-strategies-for-flex-successOnce you’ve decided that a flexible schedule is right for you, you need to be able to envision your future plans. As you define your successful, flexible career path you should clearly map out your one, three, and five-year vision. That vision should include what you want personally and professionally and how the two can mesh to define success on your own terms.

Once you are clear on your own goals you can begin to envision your long and short-term plans for your career, your lifestyle, and your family. You’ll also need to think through potential opportunities and obstacles and clearly map out financial and professional development needs. Do you want to be home with your children for an extended leave? Can you afford to work part-time? Do you want to take a sabbatical? Do you have childcare options? Your flexible work plan can then be mapped out to support your aspirations. You’ll be much better able to negotiate the needs of your employer once you have a clear sense of your personal needs.

Over the years we’ve asked countless professionals working flexible schedules about their initial planning stages. Here are some of their words of wisdom… Read more

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.

This article by Manar Morales, President & CEO of the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance, was written for the Accounting & Financial Women’s Alliance.  Manar is honored to be speaking on “Mindset, Confidence & Grit: Positive Change for Positive Results” at the AFWA’s “Women Who Count Conference” at 2:15 pm on Saturday, October 28 at the Westin Alexandria, VA. Contact the AFWA for more information on registering.  

 

You have a top-notch degree. You’re smart. You’re a hard worker. You know where you want your career to go. But do you have the right mindset to succeed professionally in your organization? Do you have enough confidence in your skills to earn respect and a path to leadership? Do you have the grit and resiliency to overcome barriers?

Many of us are competent, but we lack the true confidence to excel. In fact, research shows that of the thousands of thoughts that run through our minds each day, up to 80% of them are negative. We have to train ourselves to have a positive mindset and fight off the negative thoughts. We also have to learn to stay true to ourselves and not allow other’s opinions and perceptions to influence our goals. By learning how to develop the right mindset, build confidence and maintain grit, we can acquire the traits needed to face difficult situations and grow professionally and personally. It’s so important to learn these skills that can affect all aspects of career development from performance to networking to self-advocacy, and beyond.

So many of the critical steps in career development depend upon your mindset, confidence and grit. When you are defining your success and mapping out your ideal path, it’s essential that you are confident you can reach your goals. It’s critical that these goals include what success looks like to you in the three main areas of your life: home, career and world. I like to call it a “360 approach to life” and it should outline what makes you happy and how you will create significance in these three areas.

When considering what makes you unique and qualified for the next step in your career you have to own your value and be able to advocate for yourself. Additionally, when obstacles do arise in your career path, you must apply a growth mindset and see the challenges as temporary setbacks and potential opportunities for growth. Remember, the only way to create a strong reputation is to believe in yourself and perceive yourself as you’d like others to perceive you. Finally, in most professions, networks, advisors, mentors and sponsors are essential to career success and these individuals can only be supportive if you are confident in your own skills and project that confidence to others.

Whether you’re new to the profession or a seasoned employee, there’s always room to evaluate where you are and where you want to be. Do you need help harnessing your confidence, mindset and grit? Ask yourself these questions:

1 Do my positive thoughts outweigh my negative thoughts?

2. Is there a gap between my thoughts and my actions?

3. Am I being truly authentic (to myself and my goals)?

4. Do I have a growth mindset?

5. Do I take criticism personally?

6. What does success look like for me?

7. Does my vision set me up for happiness in all areas of my life?

8. Are other people’s opinions influencing my goals too much?

9. Do I truly believe in my strengths and abilities?

10. Do I take risks in my career?

11. Am I surrounding myself with positive and supportive peers and co-workers?

12. Am I taking care of myself (nutritionally, physically and emotionally)?

 

Join Manar on October 28 at the AFWA “Women Who Count” conference to learn how to harness your confidence, mindset and grit.