5 Working Mothers on Their Lives in Advertising During Covid

The ups and downs for these Fierce Mamas

This year has been a sh*t show for all of us, women specifically, women with children even more specifically. As a creative leader and a mom, I think the industry has come a long way in terms of supporting mothers in advertising, even though there's still a long way to go. Could Covid end up destroying all the progress we've made?

You've probably seen the articles about how the pandemic has forced women out of the workforce and predominantly hurt moms in terms of their careers. But what does it mean for five actual moms working in advertising?

Alexis Bronstorph, Kammy Ahuja, Kim Pereira, Lindsay Di Tolla and I are advertising professionals and founders of Fierce Mama Cards, Mother's Day messages that celebrate the working mom. Our cards, (which you can find and share at fiercemama.ca and on Instagram @fiercemamacards) aim to help other "power moms" feel seen. We chatted about all things parenting, advertising, pandemic and stretchy pants. 

So how is life different today versus "the before time"? 

As Kammy, design director at The & Partnership puts it, "As a mother, freedom is hard to come by in the best of times. Without the childcare help I usually have access to, it is non-existent." 

Alexis, chief creative officer at TAXI, agrees. "Life today is just a lot more full-on. My kids and I are together all. The. Time. It can't be normal to spend this much time with your family."

And in terms of work, I know I personally found it hard to ideate in the early days of the pandemic. Everything seemed to take twice as long. As Kim, a senior freelance designer, says, "Not feeling the energy of people or new spaces does kill creativity a bit." 

There's the worry of the Covid numbers, the boredom of being trapped at home, and just missing the fun parts of advertising. "I am ready for some agency drinks, lunches, and flights!" says Alexis.

But this crazy time has offered a new way of looking at things, too. "I no longer see work as being the most important thing," says Lindsay, account director at The & Partnership. "People are getting sick and dying, so the pandemic has really put things into perspective for me."

And what about those articles telling us that women have been set back three decades due to the pandemic? Are we all doomed?

"There is already a discrepancy in how often women raise their hands for the challenging, tough tasks," says Kammy. "Now it's a challenge to keep your head above water, let alone raise your hand."  

Kim agrees: "As if maternity leave did not already create enough of a dent in a woman's career, now we have this. There were systemic problems before, and the pandemic has made it worse."

Alexis puts a more positive spin on it. "I think everyone is re-evaluating what work looks like, and I hope that newfound flexibility will encourage moms to stay, and thrive, in agency settings. Hopefully we can change those stats quick." 

So, what can the industry do to accommodate moms during the pandemic? 

Flexible hours, creating a space for dialogue, and having empathy all rose to the top of the list. Not to mention having more moms in positions of senior leadership. Personally, I feel like having Catherine Marcolin as president of UNION has made a big difference in terms of accommodating the needs of mothers during the pandemic. Or at the very least, allowing them to be heard. 

"Maybe one day there will even be an NFP organization that supports women and specifically moms in advertising," suggests Lindsay. "Connecting them with other moms for support. Creating a safe space to talk about the issues moms in advertising deal with." 

Until then, we will battle on, as we always have. And we'll take comfort in the silver linings of this crazy time, which include watching our kids grow up, having more time for personal reflection, and leggings "all day, every day."

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Rica Eckersley
Rica Eckersley is executive creative director at UNION.

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