Diversity Journal First Quarter Magazine 2022

Page 48




LEADERS Worth Watching



It’s Time to Embrace a Hybrid Work Model Today’s work environment is very different from what it was two years ago. While most business professionals had the ability to work remotely pre-pandemic, that option was used infrequently (mostly while travelling, or feeling unwell, or waiting at home during a 4-hour repair/installation window). As offices re-open, and employees are encouraged to return to

Education: BA, Princeton University; JD, Stanford Law School Company Name: Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP Industry: Law Company CEO: Kim Koopersmith, Chairperson Company Headquarters Location: N/A Number of Employees: 1,759 Your Location: Los Angeles, California Words you live by: Use your power for good. Who is your personal hero? My mom What book are you reading? Puerto Rican Cookery by Carmen Aboy Valldejuli What was your first job: Babysitting after school when I was in the 4th grade (age 8) Favorite charity: Mexican American Bar Foundation (themabf.org) and Outfest (outfest.org) Interests: Learning to cook Puerto Rican recipes (like arroz con gandules and camarones guisados) Family: Peter Griffith (Spouse), and Ginger and Jax (our 2 Rhodesian Ridgebacks)


2022 First Quarter

in-person work, many are hesitant to be in the office five days a week. We have gotten comfortable with virtual meetings, no commute, working in casual clothes, and seeing our families more often. Even colleagues who used to insist on working in the office have adapted pretty seamlessly. While there are many positive aspects of remote work, the interpersonal connections and sense of community built from being present in the workplace have suffered. The opportunities to mentor junior colleagues and get to know new hires are less organic. Newer colleagues have never even been to the workplace. There is a real risk that some colleagues will fall through the cracks, and not receive the same level of work, training, and mentorship that they would have enjoyed in a pre-pandemic work environment. And, as before, that risk will likely disproportionately impact our diverse colleagues, due to a variety of unintended factors (including implicit bias). I do not believe hard and fast return to work mandates are the solution, nor do I recommend discouraging the flexibility of remote work. But I do think we need to find ways to encourage colleagues to work in person at the office, so we can reconnect and rebuild the community work environment. Perhaps we could schedule some internal meetings in person and plan social activities like lunches and happy hours Tuesday through Thursday to help build attendance on those days. We could take the time to walk the halls and stop to catch up with colleagues, especially staff members who do not have the luxury of working from home or participating in virtual meetings as often as executives and may feel especially disconnected. We could invite junior colleagues to lunch or a coffee break— especially those we do not already know. And we could embrace a hybrid work model that balances in-person and remote work. Most important, we must encourage our partners and senior executives to lead by example.



Marissa Román Griffith