Supporting Women In The Workplace with Jennifer Frieman, CTO, Momentum

From Member Jennifer Frieman, Chief Talent Officer, Momentum Worldwide

Due to the economic downfall, we are facing the world’s first-ever “She-session” – the first time in history a recession is impacting women’s jobs more than men’s. That said, what is your advice to the industry to better support women today?

In this Covid era, many women are shouldering a disproportionate share of home and child care.  According to a Boston Consulting Group survey from 2020, these extra responsibilities are adding an average of 30 additional hours a week as caregivers and housekeepers, in addition to maintaining full-time jobs from home.

Without traditional systems of support around women, there is an obvious issue of demand for time and attention simply exceeding the time and resources women have available to them. This is where the industry must start as we consider how we can support women better. If we want to see women succeed and stay in our organizations, we need to create new paradigms for work.

We have the power and mandate to redesign roles and schedules. Now, more than ever, is the time to open the door to flexibility or allow breaks to provide women with the ability to recalibrate and thrive while not sacrificing their success in either role. While the government extended protected caregiver leave to cover pandemic-related leaves of absences within small businesses, large businesses didn’t see the same requirements—but companies do not have to wait for the government to mandate these updates. They can still provide protected leave to employees to support them as they navigate challenging caregiver needs through their own policies. Businesses can create job shares and offer flex hours; and ensure expectations are realistic. At my company, we’ve even discussed the possibility of using available space to invite parents to bring school-age children into the office to attend their Zoom classes with a hired tutor on-site while parents work.

Do you have any internal initiatives or other ways in which your company champions women in the industry?

We’ve really focused on supporting women in a few important ways. One is aligning women with internal mentors, coaching and support during critical transition moments. We also ensure that we raise awareness of high-performing female talent across top leadership levels of the organization and through recognition in the industry with partners such as the 3% Movement and Creative Equals.

In 2018, Momentum launched the Project Project, a program designed to support women reentering the industry after taking an extended time out to raise families or care for others. The program is designed to immerse skilled marketing creatives in a reentry learning program, and includes a marketing bootcamp, reentry coaching and the opportunity to spend time working in an apprentice capacity with a current Momentum employee. It is then followed by the opportunity to join the agency via freelance or in a full-time role.

Being part of Interpublic Group of Companies (IPG), we also have access to The Women’s Leadership Network (WLN). This is a brilliant initiative that really helps create a community of support around women within Momentum. There is a powerful network of women across our IPG agencies and the WLN allows a sharing of experience and learning as women navigate their professional journeys.

Can you share an example that highlights how the advertising industry is making progress around gender equality in the workforce?

There has been a lot of attention and progress made on the growth of female leaders in creative roles. We have worked hard to achieve that growth as an industry by calling attention to it through groups like 3% and Creative Equals, among others. According to the 3% group, the percentage of creative women in leadership roles has grown from a dismal 3% in 2008 to 29% now in Creative Director roles.

Why is it so important to hire, promote and retain female leadership within our industry?

In a creative service industry, our product and results are reliant on the quality of our talent, and retaining great talent is paramount to the success of our work. Our product lives in the real world, through experiences we create for a diverse audience. Having a diverse team, including women, allows us to create better work through the myriad of unique voices and views that contribute to our product creation. We can’t afford to lose top industry players because they aren’t able to work with us while moving along on their journey through life. We must create an environment where people can find success for all the things that matter in their life.

Jennifer Frieman was appointed Global Chief Talent Officer in 2013, having previously been McCann Worldgroup’s Global Head of Learning and Development from 2011–2013. Prior to that, she was SVP, Global Head of Organizational Development at Momentum from 2007–2013. She champions our industry leading D,E &I efforts through volunteer and committee work with organization that include Venture for America, the 3% group and 4A’s High School.