Changing Perspectives: Respect for boundaries and clear communication key for parents in the workplace

Begona Loredo
By Begona Loredo | 16 November 2023
Begona Loredo.

The MFA DE&I Council would like to see an industry where everyone can thrive, feel heard, supported, and safe to do their best work. Let’s meet the Changers who are sharing their own lived experiencesto inspire us all to change for the better.

In today’s world, the concept of diversity isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a patchwork quilt of individual experiences. My own unique crossroad of identities encompasses being a newbie mum, an immigrant, a Latinx, and a woman. Adding another layer to this crazy mix, I have a toddler, and although we all have our challenges in this crazy post-pandemic life, mine just happens to involve some epic tantrums.

You might expect parenthood to be a well-honed craft after 300,000 years of Homo sapiens history, but – surprise, surprise! – it’s still a wild and uncertain ride. The lack of having a set rulebook to raise kids gives us freedom to adapt, but it also fuels that nagging “impostor-mum-guilt-syndrome”.

In our own workplace of media agencies, working parents are not a new phenomenon, but we are much more aware of individuals’ needs. Agencies have nailed quite a few initiatives to ensure people feel included and seen, but there’s still a lot that we could work on as an industry to make things better.

I’ll take you through three misconceptions I’ve experienced or witnessed since coming back to work:

The Half Day
Some people still assume that when parents duck out of work early, they’re essentially living it up with a half-day vacation. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Most parents are logging back in after-hours, desperately trying to make up for the “missed time” and burning the midnight oil to ensure nothing gets missed.

On the flip side, there’s a common belief that parents have some magical multitasking power just because they have kids. But let’s be real – there are good days, and then there are those days when your brain feels like it’s on vacation. Yep, we all have those moments when multitasking is a mission impossible. It’s a reminder that, we all are only human, and everyone has their ups and downs.

The “Mum Brain”
I’m personally guilty of self-labelling with this one. People often assume that parents, especially mothers, become less sharp at work because they’re busy with family stuff. Well, I can confirm, parenthood doesn’t automatically turn your brain into mush (though some days it feels like it). In fact, many parents become super-organised and efficient, squeezing every ounce of productivity out of their work hours. They’ve got priorities straight and a knack for time management that would make any project manager jealous.

If you have someone in your team that is going through the joys of parenthood, I have a few tips that might help both them and you.

Try to be as flexible as you can, respect boundaries (and set them if you are on the other side of the spectrum) and be super clear on what you want to communicate. This will not only help you manage expectations, but it will also encourage a work environment that is overall tolerant to different situations and lifestyles – not only for parents.

At Havas, even though I started recently, I’ve had the opportunity to set expectations and have been met with incredible ease. I feel so grateful to work at a place where I can feel most days that nothing holds me back.

And even though we’re paving the way for a more understanding and inclusive work environment, there’s always room to grow. After all, that’s what makes our industry so exhilarating – the ability to adapt and embrace change.

Begona Loredo is Account Manager at Havas Media Network.

To broaden your understanding of DE&I, complete the SBS Core Inclusion course – Australia’s leading online DE&I training course – available for free to MFA member employees. Access ends December 2023.

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