Work & Wellbeing Adtech The Future of Work

‘It’s like having 3 jobs’: working moms in programmatic suffering lack of flexibility


By Ellen Ormesher | Senior Reporter

July 6, 2022 | 5 min read

Working mothers in programmatic are feeling the effects of a lack of flexibility within the sector, The Drum hears.

Working parents

42% of working mums felt that having children had negatively impacted their career trajectory/ Image via Unsplash

A new survey by the industry support group The Women in Programmatic Network (WIPN) has delved into the challenges facing working parents within the sector. It found that 42% of working mums felt that having children had negatively impacted their career trajectory, compared with 25% of men.

“Being a working mum is like having three jobs at once,” says Jen Antoniou, account director, CTV at Magnite, who was among the surveyees.

“We have our career and childcare, as well as taking care of the house. We’re spinning so many plates at once and trying desperately not to drop one. You end up harboring an enormous amount of guilt,” she says.

This echoes the findings of many reports on women’s experiences of working in the advertising industry. A recent IPA report found an increasing number are opting to leave altogether in the face of mounting pressure.

This survey on the programmatic sector specifically revealed that women were twice as likely (61%) to be affected by feelings of guilt and imposter syndrome compared to their male counterparts.

This could largely be down to the fact that women still assume the majority of childcare responsibilities. 86% of those surveyed did not share parental leave with their partner.

Mike Campbell is the director of business development at Xandr. Unlike the majority of working fathers, he opted to take extended parental leave in order to spend more time with his children. He says it opened his eyes “to some of the joys and challenges that women have faced for generations.”

“I think it is important for dads to offer to take the leave to connect with their children, give their partners the freedom and flexibility to return to work, and normalize dads being away from their desks. With shared parental leave, yes there are challenges such as the impact on pay, complicated paperwork (I had to redo it three times), the difficulty of returning to work and baby change rooms often being in women’s bathrooms. However, a supportive partner, community, team and of course step-free access can go a long way to help realize the joys,” he says.

Across the board, 97% of parents surveyed agreed that flexibility and core hours are some of the most important factors in accommodating working parents.

“Flexibility and understanding are the biggest changes that you can make for working parents. I think employers recognize the value that stable employees bring to the workplace. It’s worth accommodating these dedicated employees as they are the backbone of the business. Parents are more likely to be loyal to places where they feel supported,” says Michal Nissenson, director of customer marketing at GeoEdge.

Antoniou says this is especially important in an industry such as programmatic, where “there is no off button.”

“We were given the ultimate trust to work fully remotely during the pandemic, and it would be an absolute failure of the industry if we did not continue that flexibility going forward,” she adds.

According to the parenting report, only 22% of working parents actually follow official policy on flexible working, while many rely on a flexible arrangement (32%) or an informal arrangement with their manager (28%).

“In today’s market, employers cannot afford to lose good employees, which is why accommodating parents is a good way to keep great team members, rather than risk losing them,” says Nissenson.

To mitigate the risk of losing talent due to the inflexibility of being a working parent, WIPN and PR agency Propeller have launched their Parent Good Pledge, an industry-wide accreditation that will enable businesses to champion inclusiveness and help them to promote themselves as responsible employers that are passionate about creating parent-friendly environments for their employees.

Emily Roberts, the co-founder of The Women in Programmatic Network and senior associate at PwC, concluded: “Diversity and inclusion has been a hot topic in the industry for a few years, but the level of women being forced out of media and advertising is shocking. One huge factor is when women enter parenthood, and we were disappointed to see how many had considered leaving the industry. We know that unless this changes for both parents, the primary childcare provider will consistently be left behind, and this massively restricts the industry’s talent pool.”

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