Forsman & Bodenfors champions flexible work plans that are inclusive for all types of parenting experiences

Every situation is different, and there is no one-size-fits all solution

da India Fizer , AdForum

Forsman & Bodenfors
Advertising/Full Service/Integrata
Global
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Rachel Thompson
Strategy Director Forsman & Bodenfors
 

Forsman & Bodenfors Strategy Director, Rachel Thompson, speaks to AdForum about the agency's inclusive work plans and using the industry's power of influence to build societal change for working parents.

 

Tell us a bit about your role. How does your experience as a parent inform your work?

I’m a Strategy Director at Forsman & Bodenfors. Basically, my job is to help clients dull the noise and focus on what matters in their communications. Having a one-year-old has really helped with that focus. I still only have 24 hours in a day but now it’s filled with diaper changes, naps and lots of playtime. This means I have to prioritize–I can’t do everything, so I make sure I’m doing the important stuff.

Most of being a parent is incredibly fun, but there are obviously tough moments. Getting spit up on would be pretty miserable if I didn’t know how to laugh about it. It’s a lot harder to be a mom (and a strategist) if you can’t see the humor. Find the fun where you can.

Finally, being a parent has allowed me to let go of (some of) my anxiety and have more confidence. If I can keep a baby alive, I can certainly build a deck!

 

In what ways does your agency support flexible work arrangements to accommodate the diverse needs of working parents?

My daughter was one of the first babies born after Forsman & Bodenfors New York had fully returned to office. I worked closely with our Human Resources team to design a plan that would be flexible for parents with different needs after parental leave ends. Whether it meant a gradual return back to the office or being remote for a few months, different benefits matter to different parents. I really appreciated the flexibility and the willingness to make things work, inclusive of all types of parenting experiences.

 

Advertising plays a vital role in influencing public perception. How are agencies and brands adapting ad comms to inclusivity around parenting?

A lot more brands are focusing on the multiplicity of emotions around parenting. It’s not an either-or experience–it can be wonderful and messy and hilarious and terrifying at the exact same time.

I’m impressed by brands like Frida and Natalist that highlight the unvarnished truth of being a mom – stretch marks, spilled milk, and all. Recently, a Times Square billboard for lactation cookies featuring Molly Baz’s semi-nude pregnant body was flagged for review. This type of controversy demonstrates just how uncomfortable our society is around approaching the reality of pregnancy and parenthood. I’m eager to see more brands lean into authentic lived experiences.

Frida Mom | “Stream of Lactation”

But parents need societal support as much as public perception. Did you know that childcare is now more expensive than rent in all 50 states? That’s a big reason why moms drop out of the workforce – we can’t afford to stay in.

Nonprofits are using tried and true comms strategies to drive attention and build societal change. I loved seeing New Yorkers United for Child Care partnering with Ms. Rachel (parents iykyk) to push Mayor Eric Adams to fund universal childcare. Let’s use our power to impact culture to make it easier to be a parent!