Agency mums tell all

Woman Smiling While Sitting by the Table With Her Child

This snippet was published in 'Agency mums tell all' by AdNews.

MIA (Mums In Ads) is a network tackling under representation of mothers in the advertising industry.
And then there's Mavens Magazine, an independent publication to champion women in Australian advertising and media.
The gender equality conversation desperately needs to leave the echo chamber, according to Leah Morris, founder of Mavens.
But what about mums at the front line of agency work?

See the response below from our Executive Director of Communications, Fiona Forbes.

Fiona Forbes, executive director of communications at Icon Agency, grew up in the days of the women's liberation movements and was constantly reminded that she can have it all. Forbes believes that society still has a long way to go in terms of pay gaps and gender equality, and this starts at work.

Forbes speaks from the perspective of both mother and employer:

“I grew up in the '70s in the days of women’s liberation. I was constantly told women could ‘have it all’ but, truthfully, I believe society has taken a really long time to catch up and we still have a long way to go when you consider gender equality, pay gaps etc.

“Throughout my early career, I stuck to my principles. I wanted a career, a husband, a family, ‘the dream’; but I felt guilty when I was at work thinking about time away from the children, and stressed at home when I was caring for them if I had a deadline.

“My husband was Irish and had an ‘old fashioned’ upbringing - women did all the domestic tasks - so the impact on me was tremendous. I was endlessly exhausted trying to keep up the façade of being a perfect wife and mother and at the same time working hard enough to get recognised and promoted.

“From the benefit of a lived experience (my children are now 27 and 32) I believe you can have it all, but in chapters.

“As employers (in agencies) we need to support women through these life stages, for example, coming back to work part-time, but I also believe it has to be a win-win.

“I have heard women (account leaders) who are considering planning a family say they will leave to seek an in-house role as returning to agency life (post-pregnancy) is too stressful with long hours, demanding clients and the perception of inflexible workplaces.

“As employers, we can’t afford to have the talent drain. We need to be more flexible and closely consider, and implement, a work/life structure that works for the employees but also for the agency. This can encompass job share roles, project work, or smaller client loads all of which allow flexibility and reduce stress.

“I am hopeful that now we have endured a pandemic, women in particular can reap the benefits of flexible work environments which enable their career progression. The playground has evened out and the pre-Covid symbols of progression such as working long hours at the office and socialising to maintain relevance, are no longer.

“And this is true for both men and women, we can all have a little more balance and a focus on what is really important in life.”