BBDO | Work That Works For Mothers
When I worked in advertising, I relished the late hours and the entertaining culture and even, the constant travel. Maybe because I left the industry when I moved on from single life, I never gave myself the chance to know it any other way but I didn't expect to be featuring a large ad agency under this series. Not to say that you can't thrive in advertising as a woman or a mother - I have old and new girlfriends with children who are stars in the agency world across account, strategy and creative roles but they will tell you that setting boundaries or negotiating flexible arrangements was a process, sometimes a challenge or in a few cases, impossible.
This weekend, a group of my former colleagues were circulating the news that BBDO, one of the big players in the industry, is rolling out a program that creates half-time senior roles for experienced women returning to the workforce. Meaning that if you were formerly in the industry but you took a career pause for children, the agency offers a set number of roles for which they structure your client work to allow you to work in a part-time capacity.
Here's what the original article shared about the rationale and the details for BBDO to make this shift in a culture that historically values always-on client service and round the clock creative fuel.
"The roles will be built around half the working hours required in standard working contracts.
The aim is to identify the best creative talents who may have taken a career break. Male parents who are in a primary care role and are attempting to return to work are also eligible to apply.
Executive creative directors Adrian Rossi and Alex Grieve said the initiative was born out of a realization that "experience is extremely undervalued."
"There are a lot of women coming into this industry, but very few at the top and there is a dearth of experienced women in their 30s and 40s," said Grieve.
"We spoke to a lot of women about this, and sometimes when they do come back, the conditions are patronizing and the work not that exciting," added Rossi. "Returning can be disappointing: for example they are given a non-challenging brief and kept away from the best clients. We want to make sure they have access to the best briefs."
So far, around two dozen people have applied for the roles, with both internal and external candidates applying. Each new hire will be connected to an industry mentor to help with their transition back into work. Rossi said that these could include clients, or senior women from production companies, as well as creative agencies, and that each mentor would be handpicked for each new hire."
Beyond a pilot program, it's rising recognition that many women, who are talented and love their work, may still want time (years, even) to focus on their family and that there is a compelling need for businesses to welcome them back into the workforce or create flexible scenarios where they can continue to contribute their smarts and perspective.
If you left or are considering leaving any industry to create space and time for motherhood, would you consider returning in a half-time capacity? What do you see as the upside and downside of this program?
Featured Image via Career Girl Daily