How supporting working parents benefits the agency

Empowering ERGs and implementing change

Scarlett Stratford-Wright, People Director at Rapp, looks at why family-friendly policies and benefits are crucial in supporting working parents, the wider benefits they can bring the agency and how an Employee Resource Group (ERG) can shape company policy.

In today's competitive business landscape, creating a workplace culture that values and supports the diverse needs of its employees, especially working parents, is essential for attracting, engaging, and retaining top talent. Offering generous family benefits not only enhances working parents’ well-being but also contributes to a more inclusive and productive work environment.

As a mother of two, I’ve experienced the challenges and anxieties that come with returning to work after maternity leave and maintaining a career hereafter. Balancing parental responsibilities with professional duties can be daunting and overwhelming. This has made me acutely aware of the support and understanding needed during this significant life transition and how working for a company that supports working families is so fundamental for professional and parental success.

Creating an Employee Resource Group (ERG)

Rapp’s creation of the Parents & Carer’s Employee Resource Group (ERG) was a significant step towards further supporting working families. This employee-led group focuses on issues relevant to working parents and or those with caring responsibilities, aiming to create a work environment that supports the unique challenges faced by this community and giving these employees a voice.  Moreover, the ERG collaborates with HR to help highlight specific needs to business leadership, bringing ideas, feedback, and real employee needs, to foster a more inclusive workplace culture.

Family-friendly policies and benefits are crucial for a supportive workplace and can lead to higher employee satisfaction, reduced turnover, and improved mental health. Additionally, they contribute to a more equitable workplace, helping to level the playing field for working parents and showing that an agency values its employees' well-being and life both inside and outside of work, thus increasing engagement.

Scarlett Stratford-Wright, People Director, Rapp

With over a third of Rapp’s workforce being working parents, this emphasises the importance of family-friendly policies at our agency. Focusing on the Parents branch of the ERG, this community has been instrumental in advocating for and driving meaningful change over the last 18 months.

Implementing change

The first step in implementing any effective change involves gathering data and personal stories that highlight the need for support initiatives and policy change. Via surveys and discussions within the ERG, 3 key areas were identified, the parenting struggles of managing school holidays alongside work, lack of supportive resources aimed specifically at parents and parents to be and our Family friendly policies, especially our Maternity policy.

Collaborating with HR, the ERG was prepared with an evidence-based case for change, crucial when presenting to decision makers and as with any pitches, continuous communication, collaboration and follow-up are essential to ensure that any proposed changes are implemented effectively.

The “School’s Out Support” initiative (a flexible working policy, designed to support employees with some of the challenges faced during school holidays) and a partnership with parenting experts “Bloss” (with access to 1-2-1 tailored support from over 200+ professionals across all areas of family life, from fertility, pregnancy, parenting and beyond) are examples of how Rapp responded to the needs identified by the Parents ERG.

Perhaps the most significant, and most recent change the Parents ERG has influenced is Rapp’s Enhanced Maternity Policy. A dedicated team of Parents ERG members carried out a meticulous competitor analysis of family policies within the industry and committed to championing improved maternity pay. They crafted a well-informed and very persuasive proposal, advocating for significant upgrades to the policy. After much collaboration with HR, and consultation with leadership, the ERGs advocacy led to an enhanced maternity pay policy, providing 26 weeks full pay, up from 12 weeks, along with a return-to-work bonus for eligible employees.

Importance of empowering ERGs

With these changes, alongside the existing family support offered by Rapp (enhanced paternity, return to work coaching for those back from family leave, our partnership with fertility benefits provider, Fertifa, our regular topical parents lunchtime get-togethers, kids Xmas parties and more), I truly feel RAPP is leading the way when it comes to supporting working families.

In conclusion, Rapp’s experience highlights the importance of empowering ERGs. Our Parents ERG has played a critical role in shaping our family-friendly and more inclusive workplace, supporting working parents and contributing to a more engaged and productive workforce.

As a working parent, there is no compartmentalising or separating the “parent you” or the “work you”, you are one of the same, so feeling supported in the workplace is vital for both personal well-being and professional success. If you're a parent in the workforce, consider joining or supporting your agency's Parents ERG, or setting one up if there isn’t one already, share your experiences, advocate for meaningful changes and work towards a more inclusive workplace for everyone.

Scarlett Stratford-Wright is People Director at Rapp.

For more on how agencies can support the wellbeing of their people visit Adland’s Wellbeing Lab.


If you have an ERG success story you would like to share, please email Antonia Stearn.

The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and were submitted in accordance with the IPA terms and conditions regarding the uploading and contribution of content to the IPA newsletters, IPA website, or other IPA media, and should not be interpreted as representing the opinion of the IPA.

Last updated 21 February 2024