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Diversity and Inclusion: Making Room for Parents in a Youthful Agency World

Published: March 29, 2018

Author: Joe Kerschbaum

VP of Client Services Joe Kerschbaum and VP of People Laura Rodnitzky, both working parents, co-wrote this post.

VP of Client Services Joe Kerschbaum:

If age in digital marketing years was calculated somewhat like a dog’s age, I would be approximately 280 years old. That’s about 7 years per human year, and yes, I’m 40. I don’t feel a day over 250 years young.
Heck, even if you calculated only my career in digital marketing, I’d still be edging close to 80. If you don’t feel like backing into the numbers, that’s about 12 years in digital marketing. This all makes sense because I prefer to go to bed by 9pm, loud music (excluding concerts) is just annoying, and yes, those kids (who are not my own) should stay off my lawn. Seriously, I just had that sod laid down.
Honestly, I’m not here to regale you with tales of the good ol’ days – because the future’s so bright, I have to wear shades. Yes, my cultural references will also be older than most of my colleagues. We’ve been talking about inclusion here at 3Q, and one segment that thrives within the agency is the “Over-40 Crowd,” and I want to speak specifically to the parents of young kids within our organization.

Agency life can be hectic, crazy, and action-packed. Agency life can mean long hours sometimes. You might think this environment is “a young person’s game” – but you would be wrong. For anyone who wants to spend ample time with their kids, be there when last-minute issues arise (like a snow day!), or whatever other zaniness comes with kids – 3Q is actually ideal.

VP of People Laura Rodnitzky:

As another 3Q parent (who’s even slightly older than Joe), I couldn’t agree more! And while those of us who are older with young kids might need a little more time to recover from a night up with a sick kid, the reality is that the average age of 3Q parents is getting younger and younger.
When I moved onto the People team in 2014, there were very few parents at 3Q, so the company hadn’t given a ton of thought to what we wanted or needed to provide for our working parents. We already had a lot of benefits that were created for the good of all 3Qers and are really helpful for parents: flexible hours (work around your school or daycare’s schedule!), generous WFH policy (because, yes, sometimes we have to stay home with a sick kid but still get things done for work!), and unlimited PTO (not having to use up your PTO for doctor’s appointments when you or your partner is pregnant is great!).

In the past couple of years, however, we’ve had a baby boom at 3Q, and the percentage of team members with kids is growing fast. This has made us take a closer look at what we can do to better support our working fathers and mothers. While the flexibility available to all 3Qers has been a lifesaver for me as a mom, it’s still difficult to juggle a demanding job and a demanding child (and many of our 3Q parents now have multiple children).
Earlier this year, we doubled the amount of paid leave for mothers and fathers to 8 weeks, which allows most of our new parents to have income throughout the entirety of their parental leave when combined with short-term disability and state and local paid leave. The reason for doing this was twofold: 1) to provide more parity to our employees outside of the Bay Area (where employees benefit from state Paid Family Leave and supplemental pay from employers during that time) and 2) to encourage our employees to take more time off when their child(ren) is born or adopted.
But regardless of how much time you take off at the beginning – what happens after that? Here’s where I felt there was the most opportunity – and need – for the company to support our working parents. So we’ve got a few plans and initiatives under way. First off, to complement our student loan subsidy, we’ll be rolling out a 529 contribution for employees with dependents to help them save for future education costs. I am also working with a Work-Life Balance committee focused on 3Q parents to create a guide for new parents in the organization (everything from signing up for new benefits to easing back into the job) and an internal support network for parents (of all ages and with kids of all ages) to help each other navigate life as parents and, more specifically, as working parents.
There’s still more we can do – and I hope we’ll continue to find ways to support our parents (including our pet parents!). That being said, as a tired 40-something mother of a toddler, I cannot say enough how much I appreciate the flexibility we have at 3Q. I honestly don’t know if I could handle a job where I had to be in the office every day, at a certain time. I like making work fit around my life – and not the other way around!
And since I’ve managed to turn Joe’s humorous post into something serious (sheesh…. HR is such a downer), I’ll leave with an inspiring quote on working parents from someone who’s usually much funnier than me:
“You go through big chunks of time where you’re just thinking, ‘This is impossible—oh, this is impossible.’ And then you just keep going and keep going, and you sort of do the impossible.” – Tina Fey

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