By: Olivia Morley
When Dillon Larberg, a senior consultant at PMG, welcomed his first foster child, he planned to use three days’ PTO. When the call came, Larberg let his manager know.
He came back to his computer later to find a message from PMG CEO George Popstefanov in the company’s Slack channel announcing leave for foster families, effective immediately.
“To come back and see the support from a company at that level was important,” said Larberg. “For my wife and I, one of the big things is like, how is this going to impact work and my ability to support my family.”
PMG, which also provides a $15,000 adoption assistance stipend to both foster and adoptive families, is at the forefront of a significant overhaul in family planning policies among agencies.
It’s one of many agencies offering employees more comprehensive and inclusive benefits. At a time when agencies are vying for talent and changing roles is common, better family planning policies build a more inclusive environment for employees and keep new parents from leaving the industry.
Paid leave for all parents
Paid leave is at the heart of every policy, and agencies are taking steps to make the policy language inclusive of same-sex couples and non-binary employees. In the past, they didn’t see themselves represented in policies that assigned longer leave to “mothers” and shorter leave to “fathers.”
PMG, Media.Monks, Dentsu and Stagwell’s Assembly and MMI agencies are now removing the exclusionary language from their policies. Policies now reference “primary” and “secondary” caregivers. This was incredibly important to Assembly’s Liz Hunter, an associate director who recently welcomed a baby with her wife and wanted to see herself represented as a secondary caregiver in the agency’s policy. Assembly grants up to six months of leave to primary caregivers in the U.S., and six weeks to secondary caregivers. Employees can break up leave into chunks as it’s convenient for them, which Hunter plans to do.
At VaynerMedia, primary caregivers receive 12 weeks of leave, while secondary caregivers receive four. “We leave it up to each and every employee to declare who they are, what they are. We don’t make any assumptions,” said Claude Silver, chief heart officer at VaynerMedia.
Silver welcomed her first baby with her partner in 2018, and was the first person at VaynerMedia in a same-sex relationship to have a baby.
“People would ask me, ‘So, are you going to take paternity?’ And I was like, ‘No, I’m not the father. I’m going to take parental leave.’” said Silver. “We need to get clear on ‘every single person has equal rights here,’” she added.
The most inclusive agencies offer equal leave to both caregivers.
MMI’s policy grants 12 weeks of parental leave to both primary and secondary caregivers, “whether you’re a mother, or a father or non-binary,” said Maggie Malek, MMI’s CEO.
Four years ago Dentsu updated its policy to 16 weeks of leave for both parents, inclusive of adoption and foster care. The holding company also offers six weeks of caregiver leave, which applies to caring for any ill family member.