MullenLowe UK empowers its teams through inclusive workplace policies

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It’s no secret that managing a full- time position in an industry as hectic as advertising while parenting is no small feat, with or without a partner, and workplace policies play a part. MullenLowe UK's CEO, Claire Hollands, chats with us about pushing the agency forward through key policies and principles that help employees thrive.

Tell us a bit about your role. How does your experience as a parent inform your work?

I have a 6-year-old and 3-year-old so life at home is full on. The week is a juggle, but for me it’s a juggle that works. Apart from making me ruthless around my diary(!), having kids has given me greater empathy and perspective on what really matters. It’s shown me the importance of partnership (my husband does as much around the kids as me) and how important it is to constantly reassess the situation to see what’s working and what’s not. All of that I apply to my work life.

Post Covid, the rules of work have also changed. As a Mum and CEO, I have a responsibility to carve out a path for the next generation so they can make work, work. Flexible working, core hours (10am to 4pm) and parental policies have all been a step in the right direction. Just as important as the policies is living by them. It’s why you’ll often see me rushing out the door for pick up.

In what ways does your agency support flexible work arrangements to accommodate the diverse needs of working parents?

Our people are our differentiator so investment in our people is paramount. For me this starts with creating the right culture. I believe motivated teams stem from a culture of ‘high challenge, high support’. High challenge is about empowering teams and individuals to push the boundaries and be entrepreneurial. High support is about creating the right environment for people to thrive and show up as their best selves. Being a working parent can place a lot of pressure on individuals. Creating and living by key policies and principles is something we’ve really focused on at MullenLowe.

One of the most recent updates we made to our family policies was updating the language to ensure we are being inclusive and considering everyone. As a result of this, we now refer to our maternity leave policy as birth parent leave and our paternity leave policy is called co-parent leave. It’s a small change but we know how important inclusive language is for our people.

We reduced the length of service needed for our enhanced birth parent leave to 12 months and we increased the paid time off, which is also linked to tenure. We also offer an enhanced co-parent leave policy of 6 weeks full pay to anyone with 26 weeks’ service. We believe it’s important to offer a shared parental leave policy that’s fair and equal for all our employees, therefore, we match our enhanced Shared Parental Pay to our enhanced Birth Parent/ Adoption pay.

We're proud to say we have a new fertility leave policy. Anyone with 12 months’ continuous service can use up to 5 working days of paid fertility leave.

We have a Neonatal Care policy that provides parents with a right to up to 12 weeks’ leave and pay when their baby requires neonatal care in addition to existing parental leave entitlements. We have made the decision to roll this policy out early as we want to ensure that we provide parents with the best support and some peace of mind during difficult times now.

Finally I think it’s important to highlight our working carers policy. It is recognized that caring can be physically, psychologically, emotionally and financially difficult for anyone and undertaking caring responsibilities alongside work isn’t easy to juggle. At MullenLowe we have recently introduced 5 days’ paid leave to support our Working Carers. This benefit applies to any of our employees who are responsible for the care and support of a relative or friend who is older, disabled or seriously ill (physically or mentally) and unable to care for themselves. Leave can be taken in one block, as separate days or 1/2 days within a 12-month rolling period.

Advertising plays a vital role in influencing public perception. How are agencies and brands adapting ad comms to inclusivity around parenting?

Being a parent is the hardest and most rewarding job all in one. Whilst I get the need for brands to be aspirational, ‘winning’ as a parent can sometimes be about the small stuff, being comfortable with chaos or admitting the fact it’s just hard work. For me, that is what inclusive parenting is all about – no wrongs, no rights. Survival, at times, can be winning. A brand, that is really delivering for me on this, is the Tommee Tippee work #TheTruthIs and #TheBoobLife. Both spots show a very real and inclusive take on being a parent. The work is raw, relatable, and insightful making it a brand I would turn to. Where I think we still have room to grow is showing inclusivity around an LGBTQI parenting as part of the norm.

Originally published in AdForum.

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