The IMPACT Agency has just been announced a finalist in B&T’s Women in Media Awards as best employer.
While we are torn that women in media need their own award (we should be recognised regardless of gender), the 2020 Chief Executive Women ASX 200 Senior Executive Census was released this month and it’s not great.
The number of women reaching senior leadership positions in listed companies has flatlined in the last 12 months. Out of 25 chief executive appointments in the last year, only one hire in the ASX 200 was a woman. Only three of 50 CEO appointments within ASX 200 companies in the last two years were women.
This is despite new Australian research that has established direct proof that companies do better when they appoint more women to leadership positions. Go figure!
So we thought we would share an extract from our shortlisted entry with you in the hope of putting a spotlight on what can be achieved if you put your mind to it.
The IMPACT Agency (IMPACT) is about people. In a world where companies are losing connection with everyday Aussies who drive their brands forward, our competitors are forgetting one crucial factor – consumers are people first.
From attraction through to retention and development, to connecting brands and organisations to the people that matter most, we put humans first, and always will.
But in this strange world we live in, not all humans are treated equally. And at IMPACT, that doesn’t sit well with us.
So, we advocate, we march, and we strive for every action, group discussion and outcome to have equality at its core.
In fact, our CEO’s own values of equality are what our agency is built on. Nicole Webb inspires women to be independent, so much so you’ll often hear her quoting one of her favourite sayings “a man is not a plan” – and she puts her money where her mouth is. IMPACT employees receive above average salaries, they also partake in social movements to support equal rights and during COVID she has committed to paying superannuation on top of JobKeeper – women still retire around with half as much super as men as a result of structural inequalities!
Our organisations logo is not only big and bold but uses hex colour #38003D, or as our human friends would say; purple – the colour of the suffragettes who fought for equal rights.
For many female PR professionals, the time they achieve significant experience and expertise in their career can intersect with starting a family; often leaving the industry because it’s too hard to balance ‘agency life’ with real life.
With two teenage daughters herself, Nicole welcomes working mums with open arms. In 2006, prior to our office relocation in 2019, she established the first workplace crèche in the marketing communications industry; offering free childcare and a safe environment for breastfeeding accredited as a ‘Breastfeeding-Friendly Workplace’ by the Australian Breastfeeding Association.
While our new office space is chic (think Empirical publishing in the TV series, Younger) to inspire the next generation of IMPACT PR professionals, we miss our crèche dearly. But in a measure that shows what true leaders are made of, IMPACT’s CEO has shifted from on-site childcare support to offering at-home childcare arrangements, alongside flexible working options.
From tailored intern programs to senior management development plans, IMPACT upskills all members of the team; ensuring that when staff inevitably move onto a new role (after a significant stint at IMPACT where long-term employees are the norm), they are the best candidate in the room.
Since IMPACT’s rebrand in 2017, the agency has launched new services every year that have been built from the ground up by team members who have been upskilled in line with interests and intended career plans; some immersed themselves in behavioural insights, others in digital, and all in earned media.
Staff receive ‘Chill days’ throughout the year, Friday lunches and BIG bunches of flowers and celebratory champagne. We ring bells, eat cake, and burn-off the calories during weekly in-house Pilates classes. And each week we award the ‘IMPACT Inspire’ prize to a staff member who receives the most votes on their achievements that week.
Case study 1: Frances Dwyer, General Manager
I love working in PR and I love my job.
From the strategy development to the media pitch; the campaign launch to the digital strategy; the boardroom briefings to the breastfeeding breaks…
The what, you say?! That’s right, breastfeeding breaks at work.
You see, I love my role as General Manager at IMPACT, but I also love my other full-time role; being a mother to my two sons, Elijah and Bradley.
When I returned to IMPACT and my beloved world of PR from maternity leave in April 2012, I was just like any other new mum returning to work, excited and anxious about the new challenge.
The unique difference for me was that I got to bring my little man with me.
Having worked at IMPACT for more than 12 years, I have been lucky enough to see colleagues return to work from maternity leave with the comfort of knowing that on-site childcare and a breastfeeding-friendly accredited workplace is there to support them.
I have experienced that supportive re-entry to the workplace after having a child twice now. And the second time around in 2017, I was promoted while on maternity leave to an executive leadership role that I am able to work in part-time with flexible hours, and free childcare.
Our Founder and CEO Nicole Webb is passionate about supporting and fostering female career progression. If you ask her – there is no reason why more organisations cannot offer the same support to their staff.
In 2017, we rebranded to The IMPACT Agency and I’ve constantly been upskilling in new areas which both challenge and fascinate me. As part of this, we’ve developed a Behavioural Insights Model to leverage behavioural science principles to uncover deep human insight that strategically and tactically informs how, what, when and where we communicate with target audiences. It’s a fascinating area and I look forward to diving deeper into audience intelligence over the coming months – and years.
Childcare and flexible working hours have given me the opportunity to have the best of both worlds. I am participating in the workforce as a leader in an industry I love; and I am present and active for my children and family, from the early days of breastfeeding breaks and lunchbreak cuddles, to today’s school drop offs and after work dance-offs.
So yes, I absolutely love my job; both of them!
Case Study Two: Emily Nowland – Senior Consultant
In June 2019, I made the move to return to an agency that had built me into a capable and confident Senior Account Executive three years prior.
As IMPACT’s resident boomerang employee, returning to familiar faces was like coming home. What impressed me the most, was how IMPACT had transformed its services, and now operated as a well-oiled machine at the forefront of strategising and executing integrated communications campaigns, spitting out offerings such as behavioural economics.
As the year progressed, while I was loving my working life, my health was really suffering, and I was eventually diagnosed with a chronic health condition. On top of this, the desire to stretch myself creatively and independently was becoming harder to ignore. I was in a constant state of turmoil, having such high ambitions for my career while simultaneously feeling devastated that my body was screaming at me to slow down.
After taking the time to reflect on how I needed to change my lifestyle over the summer break, I had a candid conversation with my CEO Nicole Webb about how I was feeling.
To my surprise, Nicole proposed that I change my role at IMPACT to part-time and use two days a week to focus on my independent business venture as well as dedicate time to managing my condition.
Nicole said she has always seen the entrepreneurial spirit in me and saw how the pull between it and being a part of a great team that does exceptional work was a real pain point. But most importantly, Nicole was advocating for my health and wellbeing at a time where I preferred to remain ignorant about it.
To say the least, I was in awe with how considerate and flexible Nicole was willing to be to make sure my ambitions and health were being supported, all while ensuring I was in a place where I could maintain my financial independence.
Just as I was starting to really settle into my new role of three days a week at IMPACT (one in the office and two working from home), to my surprise I found out my husband and I were pregnant!
Given their level of understanding and dedication to making my role at IMPACT work for me, I was scared to break the news to Nicole and Frances that I had another (perhaps the biggest of them all) life changing moment ahead of me. They had demonstrated such a high level of care for me and I wanted to demonstrate my gratefulness for this, which is why I decided to break the news of my pregnancy quite early. Trust and transparency are the building blocks for great relationships, and in my experience, this personal value is reflected back to me at IMPACT.
My pregnancy journey has not been smooth sailing, and with the implications and uncertainty of COVID-19 setting the scene for 2020, it has been an emotional year to say the least.
IMPACT has gone above and beyond to ensure our work stations; both remote and in the office, are COVIDSAFE, and throughout the new climate of remote working across the team, has implemented practices and processes to ensure we each feel valued, connected and supported.
As I’m currently working out my last month before maternity leave, it’s’ not lost on me how much of an impact this workplace has had on my development both personally and professionally these past 14 months. I wholeheartedly can’t wait to return from maternity leave and lean on the guidance and lap up the support of the incredible working mums at IMPACT.