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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. 

Dickinson Wright’s Staff Parental Leave Policy

BRIGHT SPOT

Detroit-based law firm, Dickinson Wright has implemented a paid parental leave policy for its staff. The new policy, implemented January 1, 2020, allows staff to take up to 12 weeks of full-paid leave to care for a newborn or newly adopted child. The policy is gender neutral and outlines new processes for off-ramping and on-ramping employees.

The Office Administrator and supervisors provide staff members with off-ramping support such as alternative schedule options, re-allocation of work and remote work opportunities. When the staff member returns from parental leave, the firm provides on-ramping benefits including a gradual return schedule, workload planning support, guidance on dealing with any implicit bias, and options for alternative schedules. The Office Administrator continues to check in with employees following a leave for up to one year to make sure that there are no concerns.

The firm has also designated a Parental Leave Coordinator who helps to manage communications between the employee, his or her supervisors, the Office Administrator, the Director of Human Resources and the firm’s Staff Parental Leave Sub-Committee of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee.  The firm also offers a complimentary Employee Assistance Plan for additional resources before, during and after parental leave.

The new staff paid parental leave policy was a core initiative for the firm’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee for 2019 and reflects the firm’s desire to continuously improve the work environment for all employees. The firm’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee led the effort in conjunction with firm management and the Staff Parental Leave Sub-Committee (comprised of both lawyers and non-lawyer staff members).

IMPACT

The response from Dickinson Wright employees has been very positive and the firm has seen an uptick in morale from both attorneys and staff. Recognizing that its non-attorney policy was outdated and did not reflect the current dynamics of working families, the firm demonstrated that it values its staff and believes in supporting all employees.  Further, the firm is showing its commitment to retaining and recruiting highly talented staff members. This initiative has strengthened the culture of inclusivity at the firm and will be seen as an asset when recruiting prospective employees.

 

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

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

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

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

November 28, 2018

Featuring — Manar Morales, President & CEO of the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance

Is your organization a leader or a follower when it comes to your parental leave and on-ramping policies? In this month’s Signature Seminar, Manar Morales (the Alliance’s President & CEO) will highlight current trends/best practices with parental leave and on-ramping policies with insights from our Law Firm Flexibility Benchmarking Survey. She will discuss innovative ways organizations have been addressing these areas by focusing on:

– Enhancing the business case for expanded and best-in-class parental leave and on-ramping policies;

– Using firm metrics to link these policies to retention, recruitment, satisfaction, and diversity and inclusion;

– Developing, revamping, and implementing these policies by engaging firm leadership and effective communication to your workforce.

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 need to support parents before, during, and after parental leave in order to retain top talent. In last month’s Action Step, Providing the Right Support Before Parental Leave, we discussed the need to support employees prior to parental leave by communicating available resources and policies, creating a systematic procedure for the transition of work, and utilizing existing and targeted programs to provide assistance. When employees return from parental leave, it’s crucial to ensure they receive adequate flexibility, guidance, and support to transition back to work successfully.

To help employees have smooth transitions back to work and avoid unwanted attrition, organizations should implement formal on-ramping and flexible work policies to help parents find their own work-life control, create a culture of acceptance for on-ramping policies through leadership promotion and education, and provide support through community, mentorship and guidance. By focusing on these key areas – Formal Policies, Culture of Acceptance, and Support & Resources – organizations can create smooth and seamless transitions back to work for parents. While the framework discussed in this action step focuses transition back to work from parental leave, organizations can apply these best practices for any family or medical leave or sabbatical.

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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 retain top talent, companies and firms need to support parents before, during, and after parental leave. While more organizations are utilizing on-ramping programs and providing support to parents returning from leave, organizations also need to remember to focus on smoothly transitioning parents to parental leave to promote team productivity, enhance client satisfaction, and reduce turnover.

To help with this process, companies and firms need to communicate available resources and policies, create a systematic procedure for the transition of work, and provide support through existing and targeted programs. By focusing on these key tasks – Communicate, Systematize, and Support – organizations can accomplish a smooth and seamless transition for parents to parental leave. While this action step focuses on easing employees’ transitions to parental leave, organizations can apply these best practices for any family or medical leave.

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