This Agency Collective Shows Why Giving New Parents Time Off Is Good for Business

Participating agencies have saved over $150,000 in the first year

Pledge Parental Leave helps new parents in the ad business spend more time with their kids. Getty Images
Headshot of Katie Richards

One year ago, digital product studio ustwo met with 10 other creative companies including IDEO and Wolff Olins to form Pledge Parental Leave, a coalition of creative shops dedicated to improving parental leave within the ad industry.

In such a short period of time, the agency behind the idea has managed to help PPL meet a number of impressive milestones, including saving its partner companies—now near two dozen up from 10—$167,518 each.

How exactly? New parents opted to stay with their agencies after having kids rather than quitting to take care of them. The program has also made it possible for parents to spend 45,000 hours with their young children instead of putting their kids in day care.

“The longer maternity policy gave me more confidence coming back to work. I was less worried than I think I would have been if I had come back earlier, having to leave a younger infant at home,” Cat Wilson, strategy director at 72andSunny, said of the program. “Also, we were able to establish a better routine by the time my daughter was six months of age so that life wasn’t as chaotic as it would have been otherwise. I can’t imagine how stressed and sad I would have been coming back sooner.”

72andSunny joined Pledge Parental Leave after it was founded by 11 shops. Wondersauce, Zambezi, Kettle and other have also signed up in recent months.

Agencies must follow a four-step process in order to join the program. Any agency that wishes to take the pledge must give three months of paid leave to the primary caregiver and three additional months of job security, three months of medical coverage and must be willing to put the PPL policy online.

Pledge Parental Leave was first born from agency ustwo when some of the employees discussed around the boardroom table, “talking about how terrible it was that most agencies don’t give any parental leave at all,” Casey Hopkins, marketing, community and events at ustwo, said. “We came up with this idea for a coalition because we do have a lot of friends and partners in the industry. We started emailing around and reaching out to see if anyone was interested. Within maybe 30 seconds, Doberman responded and said yes.”

There’s clearly a need for these types of coalitions and policies within the business. Since PPL came on the scene a year ago, other agencies have adopted their own policies for new parents. A similar policy out of KBS from chief talent officer Michele Prota was recently dubbed a gold standard policy by the 3 Percent Conference.

Porta’s policy doesn’t use the word maternity leave, but rather parental leave and offers three months paid leave and an additional three months unpaid leave with job security to new parents. Finally the policy gives an additional three months of flexible working, which allows new parents to work from home a few days per week as they get used to their new schedules with kids.

Mother New York also recently pushed out a stunt around Mother’s Day. New moms could go on LinkedIn and add a new job to their resume. Instead of having to explain time off for giving birth and raising a child, mom’s could say they were working at a made up company called The Pregnancy Pause.

Take a look at more data from Pledge Parental Leave below.

@ktjrichards Katie Richards is a staff writer for Adweek.