Posts

Awards to be presented at Diversity & Flexibility Alliance Conference on November 7

Washington, DC – October 1, 2019 — The Diversity & Flexibility Alliance announced today that its 2019 Flex Impact Award Honorees are global consulting and financial services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and international law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP. The Flex Impact Award, which recognizes initiatives that demonstrate a significant impact on the culture of workplace flexibility, will be presented at the Alliance’s annual conference Inspire. Innovate. Ignite! on Thursday, November 7, 2019 in Washington, DC. Registration information is available here.

“Both of these firms have taken the time to develop unique, comprehensive and innovative holistic flexibility initiatives that meet the needs of a diverse group of employees, thereby creating a truly inclusive culture,” said Manar Morales, President & CEO of the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance. “By recognizing the changing needs and desires of today’s diverse workers, these organizations are leading their industries in their commitment to supporting the health, wellbeing and satisfaction of their employees,” she added. “As a result both firms are reaping the many benefits of their well-designed and authentic flexible working programs such as an increase in retention, improved engagement and superior recruitment.”

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is being recognized for its comprehensive flexible working program Flexibility2 TM that allows employees to control when and where they work while ensuring excellent client service and maintaining the quality of their lives. This program offers a myriad of informal flexible working options within its Everyday Flexibility initiative, including Year Round Flex Days, Teaming Culture which advocates shared responsibilities, and Unprescribed Paid Leave for self and family care. Additionally, employees can take advantage of Formal Flexibility options such as reduced hours, flexible start and end times, formal telecommuting three or more days a week (PwC@Home), telecommuting one or two days a week (PwC Offsite), job sharing, compressed workweek, and sabbaticals. Furthermore, PwC has been able to weave flexibility into the culture of the firm, and not only are employees encouraged to work flexibly, but they are also praised when they do. Since it was launched in 2011, the program has led to better morale, increased productivity, improved overall satisfaction and higher retention rates.

“Having flexibility at work is a center piece of our culture at PwC and is available to everyone starting on their first day at the firm. Flexibility at PwC is not about working less, but it is about encouraging people to work differently, in a way that fits their personal lives,” said Anne Donovan, the U.S. People Experience Leader at PwC. “A culture of flexibility creates a happier and more productive workforce and is essential to recruiting and retaining the best talent. We’ve worked hard to instill this culture across the firm and are honored to be recognized with the Flex Impact Award.”

Morgan Lewis will be recognized for its Remote Working Program that allows Associates to spend up to two days each week working remotely. Since 2017, more than 350 Associates in the US and the UK have participated in this program that leverages technology and offers the opportunity to work where they are most comfortable while still ensuring high quality results for their clients. While this program is offered to all attorneys, it has been particularly beneficial to women lawyers, many of whom have become partners and advanced in their careers while having children. Additionally, the firm’s Ramp Up Program provides support, mentorship and networking opportunities for Associates returning to work after family leave and reduces the hours expectation by 25% for the first six months with no reduction in base pay or bonus. Morgan Lewis has also developed ML Well, a comprehensive program and online portal of resources for all lawyers and professional staff designed to support work life balance, increase engagement and help employees manage the demands of their personal and professional lives.

“Now more than ever, we recognize that embracing a flexible workplace culture enhances the well-being of everyone at Morgan Lewis,” said Firm Chair Jami McKeon. “We were proud to be among the first law firms to launch forward-looking flex initiatives such as our Ramp Up and Remote Working programs. We have now dedicated full-time resources to advancing these and other innovative programs—like ML Well—to ensure that the thread of well-being and work/life balance is purposefully and earnestly woven into the fabric of who we are. We are truly honored to be recognized by the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance for our dedication.”

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 at 202-957-9650 or manar@dfalliance.com for more information.

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.

2019 Spotlights

For September 2019, we are pleased to share insights from Sarah Rodriguez, Partner at Shutts & Bowen (Orlando, FL).

September 2019 Spotlight on Flex

Diversity & Flexibility Alliance: How have you made flexibility a priority and a success with your schedule?

Sarah Rodriguez: In undergrad, I originally pursued a degree in engineering, but approximately half way through college, I switched to a double-major in business administration and political science. This naturally parlayed into law school, and after graduating in 2009, I had offers to work at several large law firms. But I chose to start working at a boutique construction law firm doing defense work. I spent three-and-a-half years there until a good friend approached me about joining Shutts & Bowen as a lateral associate. As much as I enjoyed working at the boutique law firm, I knew I wanted the exposure to other areas beyond construction law. I joined Shutts in 2013, and I haven’t looked back!

While on maternity leave after having my first daughter at the end of 2013, I started to think about flexible schedules. As a young associate, I was billing close to 2500 hours per year, and my husband was also an attorney. I knew our schedules weren’t sustainable with a newborn at home. I wanted to be present for her and attend all the doctor’s appointments, playdates, and see all her major milestones. I spoke with the Managing Partner and Practice Group Leader, and we agreed that I would come back at a 60% reduced hours schedule; I’ve been working reduced hours ever since I came back from my first leave in 2014. The firm has been incredibly supportive and respectful of my schedule. I’m typically in the office every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, although I occasionally work from home on Wednesdays and Fridays. I’ve never been pressured to ramp back up to full time, and in fact, I was promoted to partner in January 2019. I was also humbled to be recognized as a Super Lawyer, Rising Star this past year.

To be clear, I am a full time attorney with a reduced billable hours requirement – I’m committed full-time to my clients and cases. To me, there’s no such thing as a “part-time attorney.” But my flexibility allows me to dedicate the time I want to my family and to professional development opportunities such as lunch with clients, client pitches, and networking events – all things needed to advance any legal career.

DFA: How has the firm and/or clients contributed to this?

SR: The firm has been overwhelmingly supportive, and technology makes it easy to respond to clients (both internally and externally) no matter where I am. I still litigate cases, and I make sure I’m as flexible with the firm as it’s been with me. If a matter requires week-long travel, then I adjust my schedule accordingly; if a client needs to meet on a day I’m not in the office, then I adjust my schedule accordingly. The firm has stood behind me and its promise to promote flexible work. In fact, the firm asked me to be part of the Attorney Development Committee, which includes the firm’s mentoring initiative. I was honored to be asked because it’s another testament to how the firm and my colleagues value me and view me as an asset to help guide younger attorneys.

My clients don’t necessarily know I work reduced hours because there’s no need. I have the same work quality, commitment, and responsiveness as if I were billing at 100% and in the office every day. I’ve learned to be more efficient over the past five years of working flex; I have a better understanding of what constitutes a real emergency, what needs an immediate answer, and what can wait with a realistic response time. My work speaks for itself, and clients are happy if they see the results they hoped for.

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

SR: Flex plays a big part in making my career sustainable. Being able to leave the office at 5 pm to attend a networking event and meet clients – these types of things have always been important to me. Strong, soft skills are what help you develop professionally and thrive. I don’t have to worry about billing enough hours; my focus has always been on the quality of work and client satisfaction. I just think this is a healthier way to practice law.

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

SR: I would tell my younger self to focus on building your brand, your work product, your efficiency, and your work relationships. It’s a learning process, but by developing these skills and habits, you’ll have so much more control over your career.

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

SR: I have a five year old, a three year old, and twins on the way, so there’s not a lot of free time to “recharge!” But being with my family does recharge me, and I try to make the most of the time I spend with them. We try to take time to read together, play together, and take as many mini-vacations as possible.

I “pay it forward” by providing mentorship, something I’ve valued so much in my career to date. I’m part of the firm’s mentoring program and have served as a mentor through various local bar associations. I enjoy sharing my experiences on how important it is to know your goals and how to achieve them. It’s not always easy to do, but I’m always willing to help others navigate a complicated career path.

 

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.

2019 Spotlights

For August 2019, we are pleased to share insights from Stephanie Smithey, Shareholder, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart (Indianapolis, IN)

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

Stephanie Smithey: While I was in law school, I worked as a legal assistant for Amoco Corp (which is now BP) doing legal research; I’d work whatever hours I could schedule around my classes. The large corporate legal department exposed me to many different areas of the law, including ERISA work (my practice specialty for the past 28 years). After I graduated, I moved back home to Indianapolis and started working at a law firm as a full-time associate. There weren’t many part-time or flex lawyers at the time, but a few years later when my daughter turned two, I knew I needed to make a change. I went to dinner with my supervising partners, and we designed a plan that would provide me the balance I was looking for. The technology for remote work was not in place yet in 1996, but we agreed I would come into the office four days a week from 9 am – 4:30 pm. All this to say that I started working flex early on in my career, and I stayed on this schedule until I lateraled to Ogletree Deakins as Of Counsel in 2007.

Coming to Ogletree as a lateral, reduced hours attorney could not have been easier. The firm’s CEO at the time, Kim Ebert, knew I was already working reduced hours, and he put the option on the table. He made it clear that reduced hours would not hinder my path to partnership and that flex was part of the firm’s culture. There were several flex Shareholders at the firm already, and I was very comfortable with my choice to start at Ogletree.

As my children grew older, I gradually ramped up my hours, and I was elected Shareholder in 2011 while working reduced hours. I later resumed full-time work, and in 2016, I was elected to be an equity Shareholder. I recently became Chair of Ogletree’s Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Practice Group.

Like most attorneys, I use holistic flex options like telecommuting as needed. Sometimes I’m in the office five days. Other times I’m in the office for two or three days, depending on my travel schedule and personal and work commitments outside the office. Even though I work full-time, several of my colleagues work flexibly to better manage their work-life demands. I understand that experience and support them 100 percent.

I joke that I had the longest path to partnership in history because of the choices I made, but I’m grateful I had those options and don’t regret making them. In the late 90s, we didn’t have email or smart phones, so the hardest thing to give up was accessibility while working reduced hours. I always worried I would miss an opportunity if a partner walked by my office with a new project, and I wasn’t there. Or would I miss the next meeting with the client? Now technology alleviates those concerns. Someone may be out of the office, but they’re always accessible. Today’s technology allows for more successful flex arrangements.

Ogletree made sure I was positioned to succeed. My colleagues introduced me to their clients and included me on important client development opportunities. I was always part of the team. When you offer people flexibility, it’s important to look at the person’s experience and expertise, and hold them in the same regard/position no matter what their billable hour requirements are. It is important to evaluate and value the quality of their time worked, not just the quantity of time worked. There’s always going to be a project where you have to say “no” because of other commitments – it’s a judgement call. It’s important to be in a place where you can say “no” because you shouldn’t have to fear losing the opportunity the second time around. You build trust between you, the firm, your colleagues, and your clients when you learn to be honest rather than saying “yes” and then not being able to meet expectations. I try to remember this philosophy and apply it in my role today by always asking my team whether they have time to take something on. We want to set people up to succeed – not to fail.

DFA: How has working flexibly made your career more sustainable and contributed to your overall internal and external development? How have clients supported your flex journey?

SS: On a community level, when my daughter was in elementary school, I left the office at 2 pm twice a month to be a co-leader of her Girl Scout troop. That started when she was in first grade and continued for several years. My flex schedule allowed me to take part in this activity and develop a real love for the organization. Currently, I’m on the Board of Directors for the Girls Scouts of Central Indiana and serve as the Vice Chair. A few years ago, I traveled with a troop of high school girls to Europe, went hiking in the Swiss Alps, and I’ve had some of the most amazing experiences through the organization. Without flex, I would not have been able to be nearly as involved in my daughter’s Girl Scout troop or the organization as a whole. In this way, my flexible work schedule gave me the opportunity to be more connected to my community.

On a personal level, flex helped me when my mother was in kidney failure. She had to go to dialysis three times a week, and my siblings and I split caregiver responsibilities. My schedule allowed me to leave early to take her to her medical appointments and pick her up from dialysis. We all have temporary family obligations that go beyond childcare, and it was a blessing to have that time with my mom. You always want to be able to spend time with your family while you still can.

On a professional level, I recall how a flexible work schedule helped me manage work for my first large, Fortune 100 client. I worked closely with their in-house ERISA counsel, and we had weekly, if not daily, phone calls. My client was going through a period of rapid divestitures and corporate restructuring, and our calls would happen during all hours of the day, weekends, and sometimes well into the evening.   I was still working reduced hours at the time.   I balanced my day to be available for the calls regardless of when they occurred. When this hectic period was over, I asked the client for a reference that included their experiences with me working as a reduced hours attorney. The client confessed that she had no idea I worked reduced hours. That speaks volumes to not only how technology has made flex easier, but also to how flexibility is seamless – done right, an attorney can work reduced hours without diminishing client service or the quality of their work.

DFA: Looking back, what would you tell your first year associate self?

SS: It was very much a “figure things out as I went along” type of thing. Now that I’ve reached this stage of my career, I’m grateful that I didn’t walk away from my law practice to find balance. Now, even as an empty nester, some days it’s hard to find the right balance, but I really enjoy my practice. I enjoy working with my clients and colleagues to solve problems, and I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes with a job well done.

I would tell my first-year self to be patient and give myself time to learn the practice of law; stop expecting perfection from day one. You really have to learn how to practice law, and that takes time for everyone. In my area, the law is constantly developing, and I’m always learning. To me, that’s the best part of this job!

Starting in January 2020, I’ll be teaching an employee benefits class at Indiana University McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis. I anticipate incorporating flex back into my schedule to leave early in the afternoons once a week on the days I teach. I want to expose the next generation of law students to this area of law and let them know there are great career opportunities out there for them.

DFA: What do you do to recharge? How do you pay it forward?

SS: In the summer time I love to be outdoors – hiking, swimming, spending time at the lake, and being in the water. But I also have my Netflix addiction! I also love to cook, collect cookbooks, travel, and spend time with my kids.

I believe in paying it forward, no matter how informal it may seem. I try to maintain a team approach – we all have different jobs to do, but we also work better together. Whether you’re an attorney, paralegal, or administrative assistant, we all have things that are important to us, and we should all be able to use flex in the ways we need it. I strive to create and foster a culture that encourages people to ask for help if they need it. If I see someone struggling to meet their obligations, I try to work with them to come up with solutions to help them find the balance they need. I’ve worked with attorneys who are on part-time, full-time, hourly, reduced hours, and even project-based schedules. I may be working with someone in the next office or someone across the country – there’s no need to be physically in the office at all times to get the job done and done well! When you realize and accept that, people can structure their practice as needed and be extremely successful. I encourage attorneys not give up, but to take control over their careers in the ways they want to move forward.

Sorry you have no rights to view this entry!