Double Take: Healthcare Ad Agency Exec Leads By Example For Working Moms
“Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Fun” was the longest running advertising campaign for Doublemint chewing gum, and Carolyn Morgan may agree it is a slogan that can — at least much of the time– be applied to her own life.
Morgan, president of Precision Effect, a healthcare brand agency with the mission to “change the standard of care,” is the mother of two sets of twins in five years (the oldest pair are 7 years old, the youngest pair turn 5 this month).
In a climate of uncertain paid parental leave and tumult surrounding the nation’s healthcare plan, the Boston-based leader has much to share about parental leave, the healthcare industry and parenting while leading at work. She practices what her agency calls “beyonding” or going above and beyond the norm in every arena of your life.
Just maybe not all at once everywhere. And it may not always be fun.
“The biggest lesson is to always welcome change,” says Morgan.
As part of the leadership team at Lehman Millet beginning in 2004, Morgan moved from managing the West Coast office up in the ranks to become president of the firm in 2013. The agency was then bought by Precision Medicine Group in 2015 and changed its name, and now has 125 employees.
Precision Effect is “focused on building brands and loyalties, and delivering messages that are meaningful about innovative healthcare products and biotech devices,” Morgan says. Many of their clients are concerned with female health care issues, Morgan says.
In her time in the healthcare and marketing industries rising to leadership roles, Morgan says she has seen a change in tenor in the workplace about working moms.
When she was pregnant with her first set of twins who were born in 2010, Morgan says one male leader in the healthcare industry “called my first pregnancy ‘the situation.’” Morgan laughs. “So archaic.”
With her second set of twins born in 2012, Morgan says, she took 14 weeks of parental leave, “peppering that with conference calls, of course.”
As a working mother and president of a healthcare brand agency, she is acutely aware of the paid parental leave debate in Congress, prompted by a bill pushed by Ivanka Trump, daughter of President Donald Trump.
“Currently, the United States doesn’t guarantee a single day of paid time off for new parents,” writes Danielle Paquette writes in the Washington Post.
“The White House plan that (Ivanka) Trump is promoting would provide six weeks of paid family leave to new mothers and fathers whose employers do not supply the benefit, to be paid through the nation’s unemployment insurance system,” writes Paquette.
“As a country we have miles to go with healthcare benefits and maternity leave,” Morgan says.
According to Elle magazine, “In 2015, the National Centre for Health Statistics found that half of new mothers in the U.S. took at least five week of their their permitted 12 weeks paid maternity leave, as a result of the financial and personal pressure to get back to work as soon as possible.”
And because taking time off for maternity or paternity leave is still not embraced in all workplaces, and working moms have a stigma for taking time off work, another advertising agency has come up with a possible solution.
“Fortunately, a new campaign by independent creative agency Mother New York is on a mission to destigmatize maternity leave with a ‘job’ category on LinkedIn aptly named ‘The Pregnancy Pause‘,” writes Katie O’Malley in Elle.
“Corinna Falusi, CCO of Mother New York, explained to Campaign US: ‘New mothers in the US often feel forced to quit their jobs due to a lack of adequate maternity leave policies, which leaves them penalised for the subsequent gaps in their résumé,” O’Malley writes.
In her own life and with her employees and team members, Morgan says she understands these complications, so she strives to be a role model for balance and flexibility. Morgan practices what she says is being “100 percent at work” and “100 percent at home.”
Morgan adds, “We have a policy when people need to work from home, to be flexible. We assume they will get their work done.”
This is not always the case with advertising and marketing agencies and their attitude towards new parents, working moms in particular.
“With parental leave a hot topic across other industries, agency staffers frequently bemoan that agencies haven’t seemed to have caught up: The nature of the business itself makes it near impossible to sustain a job with long hours and unpredictable demands,” Pathak writes.
With that in mind, Morgan says she works hard to acknowledge the difficulties of the double life of parenting and working both publicly and privately.
“I am cognizant of the messages I am sending,” Morgan says. “I shut down during vacation time and on weekends. You have to set your own boundaries; no one will do that for you.”
So none of Morgan’s team members will get a midnight email, text or voicemail, or any communication on the weekends. She is respectful of their time with family and friends, just as she respects uninterrupted time with her four children and husband at home.
Still, the ecosystem is not perfectly balanced for working moms, Morgan says.
“Mom-shaming totally exists through social media,” she says. “I don’t see it in my friends,” but she sees it at work and play.
Diana Leygerman writes in Romper: “Dr. Jessica Zucker, a clinical psychologist specializing in women’s reproductive and maternal mental health and the author of Good Enough is the New Perfect, explains that “motherhood seems to stir profound insecurities for women as they traverse the simultaneously joyous, daunting, rewarding, and vulnerable journey that is parenthood. Most people aren’t forthcoming about how anxious they feel, how isolating mothering can be, or how fulfilling it is to love a little person in such an inexplicable way.”
Leygerman continues, “So then mothers across the globe are yelling at one another, blaming each other for raising ‘snowflakes’ or ‘bullies’ or ‘sociopaths’ or ‘whatever other noun that shames the mother.’ No matter what choice a mother makes, no matter how much ‘research’ a mother does, and no matter how much professional advice she seeks, she will still be made to feel as though she’s failing. Because instead of placing the blame where it belongs — our society — women tend to blame and shame one another, because that is how our world is set up.”
In her immediate world of work and home, Morgan works double time to make sure that is not the case, “beyonding” to make sure each part of her life feels whole without too much stress. Acceptance of the bigger picture helps, she says.
“You can’t control what you can’t control. Both sides of my life are equally hectic.“
About the Author
Michele Weldon is editorial director of Take The Lead, an award-winning author, journalist, emerita faculty in journalism at Northwestern University and a senior leader with The OpEd Project. @micheleweldon www.micheleweldon.com