Thinking with Our Hearts and Our Heads

Supporting Women (and Men) During the Most Important Event in Their Lives   

Becoming a parent is by far one of the most significant times in a person’s life.  However, the ability to balance parenthood and work is very challenging and stressful. For women, in particular, transitioning back into the workforce knowing your employer is truly supporting you is often cited as the key determinant in successfully resuming one’s career.

Throughout my own career, I’ve heard employers tell women to just speak up more, be more assertive, and have a voice to ensure they are provided fair and equitable treatment in the workplace.

That’s great, but those are just words… unless you do something about it.

Jim Weiss recently said during PRWeek’s Hall of Femme breakfast panel, “don’t just tell women to speak up, actually listen, and help” the comment resonated both in the room and in our firm because it wasn’t just lip service, it’s W2O’s philosophy.

A prime example is the creation of what we believe is the first of its kind, new program called “Your Fourth Trimester™” designed to address an underlying unmet need for new moms (and dads): advice, support and assistance as they re-enter the workforce after maternity leave or welcome a new addition to their family.

Your Fourth Trimester™ was ‘born’ out of focus groups with new moms, parents-to-be, and those with children to find out how best we could support them. We heard they wanted more paid time – and time in general to care for their newborns, so we improved our parental leave (now up to 16 paid weeks for birth parents and up to 11 weeks for secondary caregivers or non-birth parents) – something many companies are offering. But we also heard that they really needed support right before and during their emersion back to work.

So in under one month, we engaged an incredible coach – Barbara Palmer of Broad Perspective Consulting – to design this innovative new offering. Barbara’s experience is perfect for this – she’s a leadership coach focused on accelerating the development of women into leadership roles and, as a working mom of 2, has held leadership roles in marketing and advertising organizations (among them, SVP of Marketing Operations for United Online and President of The Search Agency).  It couldn’t be a better match.

“W2O is doing something that is so innovative and employee-first.  To think of the changing needs of an employee transitioning to their role of working parent is a real differentiator,” said Palmer. “We’ll be covering issues such as ‘Mommy Guilt’, ‘Love Work AND Be a Better Mom,’ Time Management, among many others.  This is a program that allows a neutral third party to coach employees and should yield long term retention for W2O.

It’s programs like this that really tell those of us – whether we’re planning to have a baby or not – that this is the type of company you feel proud working for,” said Dana O’Brien, group director. 

And Sara Vlasach, senior director, who has already enjoyed the benefits of the program shared, “I wish all companies had a program like this. I’ve seen many great female leaders leave the workforce a year or 2 after they have a baby and I can see why. But having a company support you with a personal coach helps to reduce roadblocks, let’s you better navigate new and difficult situations, and is just empowering when you need it most.”

We’re just had our first dad go through this program and we’re looking forward to his feedback as well.

It is truly an exciting time at W2O.  Leadership is focused more than ever on employee development, career pathing, innovation, and committed to exploring new programs and policies such as this one.

Your Fourth Trimester™ is a great example of how we’re giving everyone at W2O the support they need to “speak up” and shape “their” work environment in a way that benefits both work and personal life.

Creating and sustaining a diverse and inclusive culture will always be a work in progress.  Thinking with our hearts and our heads, listening, and acting in a responsive manner means we all work in a respectful, collaborative, and inclusive culture.

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Eric Bacolas
Eric Bacolas
Chief People Officer

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