Insights/17 Jun 2014

Crowded years – from paper to practice

Is it OK to leave work early to pick up the children? What is the manager’s attitude toward paternity leave? The employees should have a right to choose what works best for them.

Text Pete Santos
Photo Ari Heinonen/Otavamedia

Partner Maria Carlsson from Borenius

BORENIUS FINLAND – Attorneys at law Borenius started an initiative for the simple reason that there was an increase in the number of lawyers, mostly women and generation Y’ers, leaving the firm. Many of them were juggling two jobs and living double lives – one as an employee and the other as a parent.

“When employees leave we lose both high expertise and investments put into these people, which is costly for the firm” states Maria Carlsson, who is the official coordinator of the Crowded Years Initiative™ at Borenius.

Welcoming atmosphere

So what did Borenius do about this? They opened up a working group of nineteen motivated people from all levels of the firm. The group’s brainstorming led to pilot projects, and the response was exceptional. The implementation involved subtle changes such as changing the timing of the firm’s strategic meetings to not so subtle as a mentoring program for lawyers returning from family leave.

“The Crowded Years Initiative™ not only makes for a flexible culture with work-life balance but creates a welcoming atmosphere in our firm”, says Carlsson.

The initiative is not limited solely to families but for anyone that has time pressures due to a commitment outside of work.

“For example, we have professional golfers, bikers, and football referees who all find themselves from time to time in other countries at their events. They all need flexibility. Motivation is a key factor and we want them to feel proud of working for Borenius,” says Carlsson enthusiastically.

Not a one-time deal

Borenius did background research for the project by speaking with different firms and auditors concerning how they dealt with the crowded years period. Most of these entities had policies for creating of work-life balance but they had shelved the policies with no implementation. Borenius wanted to take things a step further.

The Crowded Years Initiative™ has shown promising results. There is a clear rise in female appointed partners in the firm since the onset of the initiative and a decline in female lawyers leaving the firm. Also statistics show that significantly more male lawyers are taking paternity leave.

The Crowded Years Initiative™ is not a one-time deal. The firm will move into a larger building next year. It will contain a childcare room so that children can visit their parent’s workplace. as well as showers and lockers for employees who cycle or walk to work. Carlsson confidently states that the goal of the firm is to be the best employer in its field, offering their employees a true opportunity to lead holistic lives.

Attorneys at law Borenius (Finland) received glory in the IFLR Euromoney LMG’s Europe Women in Business Law Awards 2014 by winning four categories: Finland – country award, best national firm mentoring programme, best national firm for work-life balance, and best national firm for women in business law.

More about work-life balance here: Balancing acts by the Dutch

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