How Ogilvy are tackling their family-friendly policies

The advertising giant has recently taken on a new Chief People Officer in the UK and is always looking to make improvements.

ogilvy family friendly


Ogilvy UK is one of the biggest advertising companies in the world. We spoke to its Head of People, Gemma Davies (pictured below), about what they’re doing to support working dads at the company.

What was your reaction when you arrived at Ogilvy about how the company handled their family-friendly policies?

When I joined in 2018, I felt the policies were generous, but they supported traditional family setups. So across my time here we have made a few changes. Firstly, we made the language gender neutral across our policies, but we had a great ambition longer term. We have recently created one family friendly policy, replacing what was a maternity, paternity, adoption and surrogacy policy. The policy is based on primary and secondary carers so that any person (gender irrelevant) taking leave can benefit from, what was, the previous maternity benefits if they are the primary carer. What was our paternity leave, is now for a secondary carer and has been extended to four weeks paid leave.

What is your goal moving forward in terms of adjusting and improving the culture?

I’m a big believer that some of the best support you can provide people is giving them options. Ideally having as many options open in terms of how you work, how your personal life is set up and how you are able to undertake any caring responsibilities. Sometimes these options are taken away from you for financial reasons and sometimes for flexibility reasons. I am positive that we offer flexibility across the business with core working hours (to provide flexible start and end times to the day) and hybrid working (currently with two days of the week in the office). Our new family-friendly policy has provided wider financial support to those raising families and our new carer’s policy focuses on those with caring responsibilities by mirroring the parental leave right to unpaid time off. The new family-friendly policy aims to equalise the playing field for families when considering who is taking the leave as opposed to a default. In a heterosexual relationship, this default would have been a mum and essentially it made no financial sense for a dad to take extended leave off.

Our next focus is to look at support in place for families undergoing IVF.

ogilvy family friendly

Are there specific things you want to tackle from a dad perspective?

Whilst things have moved on so much, as a society we still haven’t cracked setting up dads for the equal or primary care of their child. Whether this is in company policies, flexible working arrangements or how society assumes roles that dads will play. I think that the pandemic has enabled greater flexible working for all which has in turn automatically helped this. Our new family friendly policy is already helping many dads within Ogilvy.

“I’m so grateful for the time I’ve had with my son and the way it enabled me to support my wife in those initial months when everything was so new. The additional time together has created such a strong bond between us, given me unforgettable memories, and the confidence of showing up as a supportive co-parent and a father. I was able to benefit from four weeks’ paternity leave – two of which I took after my son was born. I have chosen to take the other two weeks just before he turns one. I also took eight weeks of fully-paid shared parental leave, so I was financially able to take this time.”

Daniel Cinna, Ogilvy Account Director

What do you think are the big challenges for companies of your size and people in your position moving forward, especially post-pandemic?

I think there is a fine balance in creating, developing or maintaining a company culture which is usually through people collaborating face-to-face in the office and at the same time enabling the flexibility that individuals need and want – even more so post-pandemic. There’s no getting away that hybrid working is here to stay and the benefits it provides in productivity and caregiving needs outside of the workplace. In an organisation such as Ogilvy, where creativity is at the heart of all we do – the collaboration is so critical.

What could government/policy do to facilitate how you go about making your employees’ lives better?

Something I’ve always been passionate about is the cost of childcare in the UK. I understand we have the third most expensive childcare in the world. Given this cost, many families have to decide if it makes financial sense for two people to work, which in turn impacts an individual’s career and earning capability for the future. Whilst there is some government support towards this, the amount gives very light relief for people.

Read more:

Legal firm DWF improves family policies

Blog: We need to rethink attitudes to child mental health

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