When I was 27, I joined a network, and the first thing I was told was how great the maternity policies are. Four months of fully paid leave. This was a company that supported women.
Ten years later I waddled into the agency, seven months pregnant, to discover that my corner office and my teammate were taken away in a bid to plan ahead for my maternity leave. I was taken off a global rebrand, because the client presentation was two weeks before my due date.
This was the job that had kept me tethered to the agency for four years. I had asked to continue, not full time, but in my own time, but was told ‘No’. Later my boss told me, he had felt he was looking out for me. Apparently it was for my own good and my own health.
Recently I watched ‘Inventing Anna’ and I related to Jessica Pressler who gets the story out just before going into labor. I felt guilty being so ambitious when I should have been preparing to be a mom.
I came back to the agency when my baby was 5 months old. I was exclusively breastfeeding. There was a small, dark room downstairs, without windows and a musty smell where new moms could pump milk, and we were guaranteed an extra twenty minute break every three hours.
The agency had changed. I’d lost my team, the corner office and the global rebrand.I had changed. I didn’t want to spend a day socializing with hungover creatives, when I could be at home cuddled up with my baby.
I felt maybe I’d lost my edge. I was up at night feeding, not drinking.
I tried different iterations of flexibility.
My options were less hours, less pay, same workload. Or same hours, same pay, same workload. None of it felt fair.
I wanted to work, but I wanted to be rewarded for my output, not my input.
It was just before Covid, and that idea felt too radical. But more importantly, I had found a purpose beyond anything I’d experienced in advertising. And the frustration of agency politicking, wasted time and bad communication was highlighted.
Agencies use timesheets to charge out creatives. They make their money from debriefs and redoing work. There is no incentive to get it right the first time.
I wanted to write from a woman’s point of view. I wanted to express myself in a softer, wittier, more nuanced way. Women have buying power but guy humor rules the advertising industry.
I left the agency shortly after my obligation for my paid maternity leave ended. I found my place amongst the independents. I went on my own with the intention of bringing a different writing style and a different type of humor to life, that values women’s voices.
Recently I connected with an old friend and joined Bald. A global start-up agency that is fully remote. It values diversity, work-from-anywhere, where outputs are rewarded, instead of inputs. While some creatives take smoke breaks during work, I now take breaks to wipe my toddler’s bum and check out the flying houses he’s built.