Motherhood and the industry @_sarahalliday
By Sara Halliday
I want to be a mum. I’m not sure whether that will come as a surprise to anyone reading this. If it shocks you, I’m sorry. If it makes me less employable, I’m sorry. If it makes you less inclined to work with me, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for you. Because I’m done with apologising for wanting to be a mum.
I read a great article by Clemmie Telford, ‘mum creative’ extraordinaire, a while back which echoed this sentiment (. )Please do have a read. Her actually being a mum gives her a more rounded perspective on this whole topic.
I’ve been having some inner turmoil recently because I don’t know whether motherhood will fit in with being a senior creative in the industry, more so because if I was given an ultimatum between them I know which I would pick. Thankfully that isn’t a choice I’ll have to make. Hopefully.
I’m conflicted by the intense pressure I feel to put my career first when my instinct is to put myself first. This conflict is heightened seeing powerful women leading the way in the industry, babes in arms. It can be done. But can it be done as a junior creative? The jury’s still out, and there seems to be so little evidence either way.
Moreso, there’s something odd about being employed as a pair while also being in a relationship. It’s almost like there’s three people in the relationship, you, your partner, and your partner. Imagine if doctors worked in pairs, or lollipop ladies. It’s weird having to consider another person when you’re planning your lives. If I leave to go on maternity leave, what happens to my partner?
The quality of my creative output is directly influenced by the amount of sleep that I get. Going to a school like the SCA makes me more aware of this than ever. The thought of coming back to work, sleep deprived, with a tiny human on my mind rather than a brief sounds like the ultimate creativity killer.
In the US there’s a scheme called Pledge Parental Leave, which was founded in 2016 with the aim to standardise parental leave across creative agencies. There’s nothing like that in the UK, and that needs to change. As a creative about to be birthed into the industry who wants to have a family in the next few years, I want to know the ins and outs of agencies parental leave policies. I want to know that the agency I choose to work at will allow me to fulfil my maternal aspirations as well as my career ones. Unfortunately, this information isn’t widely available, and that sucks.
But as Clemmie says, the industry needs diversity. We were lucky enough to have the great Laura Jordan-Bambach into the studio today. What really stuck with me from her talk was that the industry needs diversity of all kinds to be successful, and we all have something different to give. In my view, it’s a case of recognising what makes us each of us different, and exploring how you can put more of that into your work. Pip Jameson spoke to us last term about a similar issue, and it made me realise that a diverse agency is a successful one.
We need to take a long hard look at the industry, and think about what sets us apart. And that’s coming from someone only a few months into this career path. If we’re selling products to mums, of course, we need a ‘mum creative’ in the team. Knowing your audience beyond the stereotype is essential to the art of selling.
I’m now in the position of wanting to change and improve the industry before I enter it. Because without improving perceptions of motherhood in the industry and more transparency around parental leave then I’m scared, still, to admit that I want to be a mum.