In 2022, after the covid-19 pandemic significantly impacted the number of women in the workforce, MullenLowe launched an internship program designed specifically for mothers who had stepped away from their careers. Recognising the strengths motherhood brings to any job, the programme provides routes back to work for mothers, as well as resources for other companies to eliminate their own biases and support working mothers.
This year, ‘Momternship 2.0’ is here with the same mission, but a new coat of paint and more supportive collaborators than before.
While continuing its partnership with professional networking group for mothers, HeyMama - with whom they developed the ‘Momternship Toolkit’ - this year’s programme also sees the addition of MullenLowe’s sister agencies: Campbell-Ewald, Carmichael Lynch, Deutsch New York, The Martin Agency, and Tierney. The companies will be offering exclusive learning sessions, as well as additional mentorship, employment and sponsorship opportunities following the internships.
During the 10-week, fully paid internship, the ‘momterns’ receive on-the-job training and are also paired with senior-level executive mentors. Erica Samadani, SVP, executive director, public relations at MullenLowe, says the process will “equip moms with the skills and confidence to return to the workforce,” all while helping businesses become more diverse and “drive innovation” through a more flexible workplace culture.
LBB’s Ben Conway caught up with Erica and MullenLowe’s head of design, Fabio Brigido, to discuss this new iteration of the project and how mothers can get involved today.
Erica> We launched the ‘Momternship’ programme to centre the experiences of working mothers, addressing how they have been disproportionately impacted in the workforce and recognising the strengths they bring to any organisation.
The programme was designed to support moms who want to return to work by way of mentorship, coaching, networking and on-the-job training. We do not require experience in advertising or communications to apply. Nor do we require an explanation for an applicant’s resume gap. Our intent is to equip moms, who have taken a caregiving break, with the skills and confidence to return to the workforce. In turn, the agency greatly benefits from their unique skill set. Hiring working mothers can make your teams more diverse, offer new perspectives that drive innovation, and help model and promote a flexible workplace culture.
Erica> ‘Momternship 2.0’ has been made bigger and better through partnership with our IPG sister agencies Campbell-Ewald, Carmichael Lynch, EP&Co, Hill Holliday, The Martin Agency and Tierney. Each agency has signed on to provide tailored learning and development (L&D) sessions throughout the 10-week program. With an increased focus on personal and professional development, this year’s cohort will learn about balancing wellness and work, how to harness the power of new emerging technologies such as AI, how to build a personal brand, and much more.
In addition to an amplified focus on L&D, we’ve added an emphasis on networking too. According to HubSpot, 85% of jobs are filled through networking. In fact, a similar CNBC poll said that 70% of jobs are never published publicly. When you’ve been out of the workforce for a while, networking can be even more difficult, and it can be very overwhelming just knowing where to start. That’s why we’ve added a new sponsorship element to this year’s programme. Each ‘momtern’ will be paired with a senior-level executive at the agency, who will be tasked with leveraging their network and experience to enrich and raise the profile of their momtern. And to help expand the network of our momterns even further, our new ‘Momternship+’ extension programme, will allow momterns to apply for an additional month of employment, networking and mentorship at Campbell-Ewald, Tierney, and EP&Co.
We’re just as excited as last year to watch the multitude of applications roll in! We already have so many talented moms who’ve applied to our open roles. With the back-to-school frenzy slowing, we’ll likely see another surge closer to Labor Day. So, get those applications in! Submissions close on September 15th.
Fabio> The ‘Momternship’ redesign was crafted with the intention of conveying the warmth, generosity and love of mothers. At the same time, we wanted it to feel powerful and iconic.
So, every element was carefully thought out to communicate these attributes clearly, beautifully and skillfully. We’re using Recoleta, a typeface that, like a mother, exudes affection and tenderness through its graceful and friendly curves. The softer and more cheerful colour palette along with details like the childlike illustrations add a human and playful touch.
Through graphic elements, we’re also communicating an openness and togetherness that invites moms back to the workforce and creates a more powerful and stunning 'Momternship' brand.
Erica> I wish there was more positive news. But, surveys like Motherly’s 2023 ‘State of Motherhood Report’ show that the ‘great resignation’ continues for mothers. In fact, this year’s findings saw more survey respondents clocking in as stay-at-home moms than past years at 25%, compared to 15% in 2022. Moreover, 18% of mothers in the 10,000+ sample changed jobs or left the workforce in the past year, and the top reasons cited were staying at home with children (28%) and lack of childcare (15%). Sadly, most American workplaces continue to be unfriendly environments for working mothers.
While the ‘Momternship’ programme is foremost about getting moms back to work, we also wanted to underscore the importance of creating flexible and empathetic workplaces. Until we (as a society) start to make changes at the structural level, we’ll continue to see moms get forced out of the workforce. And programmes like ‘Momternship’ will continue to be a necessity.
Erica> We created the employer toolkit and made it easily accessible on our website, so other like-minded organisations could easily start their own programme. Since we launched, we’ve had several conversations with brands and other agencies about starting their own program. But, of course, having these conversations takes time, and each organisation has its own set of challenges to overcome to implement a programme like this. The important thing is that the conversations are happening, and that the toolkit has been used to spark new ways of working and discussion around what support systems need to be in place to keep talented mothers from leaving the workforce.
Erica> I would ask each company that is considering starting a ‘Momternship’ programme to first think about how they support their current working mothers. Think about what policies your company has in place and whether your company culture currently supports working parents. The main reason moms leave the workforce is due to inflexible, unsupportive workplaces. So, start there.
Some companies choose to offer increased flexibility in work schedules to accommodate not only working mothers but their entire workforce. Parent-friendly flexibility options could include allowing employees to work from home a few days per week, offering staggered or compressed work weeks, or trying the unlimited PTO model. Then, once you have a solid support foundation in place, download our toolkit to get your ‘Momternship’ programme started. Or send us an email at EmployersForMoms@mullenlowe.com for a personalised consultation.
Erica> ‘Momternship’ applications are open until September 15th. If you or someone you know would be interested in applying, visit Momternship.org to check out our open roles and submit your application. The process is very easy - it should take less than 10 minutes to apply!