Opinion piece from Charlie Lycett-Smith, general manager at Organic
Recent stats show that the numbers of senior women in agencies are still low.
IPA’s research even suggests that 89% of creative directors in the UK are men. It’s not that there is a lack of women who are driven, confident and ready for a new challenge in the industry – it’s more that they can often feel overwhelmed at having to make a choice between being a mother and developing their career.
But why should they have to make that choice?
Agency life can be demanding, overwhelming and full-on at times. That being said, the hectic lifestyle is rewarding when that pitch pays off, or the perfect brief comes through. However, for lots of women, being a mother is even more rewarding.
Balancing the hectic nature of agency life and being a mum is no mean feat, but it can be done through working in the right supportive environment.
Nailing being both an employee and a mother?
Workplaces need to encourage flexibility. It’s important to allow people to feel they can leave work at 5pm to ensure they get that small window of time with their families. Time management is key to achieving this. By leaving at 5pm on the dot, you don’t have to hinder your work productivity and can instead enjoy a few hours with your children. It’s so important to be around for bath and dinner time.
If you don’t see your family, it affects your wellbeing and mood – your workplace needs to understand this and give you the chance to balance both aspects of your life.
Realising you can do your job alongside of raising a child is vital. The companies that achieve this are the ones that do better in the long run and have more loyal, respectful and hard-working staff. It’s time we moved away from the stereotype that staying in the office late means you’re working harder. There’s nothing wrong with shorter but more efficient working hours. Nobody can come up with fresh ideas after a nine-hour stint at their desk.
The powers of being a working mother
You need to stay on top of your game. At the end of the day, working parents have to juggle a lot of responsibilities. They need to know when to purchase the new school uniform, when to press send on that important proposal all while ensuring the whole family is fed and watered.
It’s a constant balancing act. All you need to do is ensure you don’t let balls drop on either side – easier said than done, I know! But nailing this will have you on the road to success. Post-children I haven’t found myself becoming less respected in the workplace, mainly because I set myself strict deadlines and stick to these, meaning my work has to be more streamlined and efficient.
What does the future look like for these women?
Family life is busy, at times it can feel non-stop – very much like agency life. Every time I need to go to a sports day, a parents evening or my children’s doctor’s appointment, I’m supported by my workplace, and I want those in different agencies to feel this too. I’m not going to pretend that my husband doesn’t do a lot, but there are some things as a mother, that I prefer to do. I’m lucky enough to have a husband who is a work from home dad, as without this I wouldn’t be able to commit as much to Organic as I do.
The future for working mothers is definitely looking brighter and we can see this all over the media. LinkedIn is full of stories about flexible working and personal stories from full time working parents in general. It’s key to understand that we can have commitments outside the office, but that these also won’t affect us being able to achieve the results we need and aim for.
It’s time we openly encouraged more agencies to champion their working mothers and give them the flexibility they need to excel at both roles.
A child’s routine doesn’t stop, nor does the cycle of work. It’s about respecting them individually, but getting the most out of both. Recognising this doesn’t impact your productivity, as if you hit objectives and are feeling content about your personal life too, you’re hitting the jackpot. Likewise the responsibility of being a full time working mother doesn’t stop when you get into the office. It’s something you take with you and have to learn to mould with your agency life. Achieving this will help you become the best version of you.
About the author
Charlie Lycett-Smith has worked in digital marketing for over 15 years and is currently Organic’s General Manager, where she has been for the last six years. A Project Manager by trade, Charlie is a Prince2 Practitioner and Certified Scrum Master, with a background in project and programme management and a large amount of experience handling complex development projects.
Lycett-Smith is passionate about improving wellbeing in the workplace. She is currently working with Organic’s Head of Talent to improve the agency’s cultural values, measure the performance of staff and keep agency morale high. Charlie prides herself in being a working mother, but also wants to encourage all women to take a leading role within the digital agency world, in an effort to improve gender equality.
Previous clients and digital projects include delivery for PwC, the NHS, the BBC, Natwest, Matalan and Argos.