Monday, November 08, 2010

 

Walmart Implements Diversity & Flexibility Connection Best Practices

Walmart’s Executive Vice President and General Counsel Jeff Gearhart recently updated the company’s outside counsel guidelines to reflect the best practice recommendations of the PAR Diversity & Flexibility Connection. The Diversity & Flexibility Connection is an ongoing discussion between prominent general counsels and law firm chairs on the retention of diverse attorneys through the inclusion of an effective work/life program. Walmart has taken a leadership position by including the following in their outside counsel guidelines:

1. Nonstigmatized flexible work: all external firms are to implement flex-time policies, or obtain a waiver, by February 1, 2011 to promote retention, prevent loss of institutional knowledge, and create a more balanced and inclusive work environment.
2. Referring work to reduced hours attorneys: firms will be including at least one partner working a flex-time schedule as a candidate for Walmart relationship partner.
3. Origination credit: firms will annually certify that that the Walmart relationship partners have received origination credit. This guideline is also a best practice recommendation of the PAR/MCCA study on partner compensation.

The Diversity & Flexibility Connection was designed to facilitate a conversation about how in-house and outside counsel could work together more effectively to support balanced hours programs, with the ultimate goal of making the legal profession more inclusive.

As the biggest company in the world, Walmart’s guidelines will likely lead to positive changes in many law firms. With the inclusion of work/life initiatives in firms’ diversity programs, more women will be able to take advantage of nonstigmatized flexible work as a viable career option.

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