Sophy Vanner Critoph, Amplify: "Ensuring both women and men have the space to be the kind of caregiver they want to be is key."

Amplify is building a supportive work environment for all employees to be their best selves, at work and home.

da India Fizer , AdForum

Amplify
Advertising/Full Service/Integrata
London, Regno Unito
See Profile
 

Sophy Vanner Critoph
Head of Strategy, Culture + Comms Amplify
 

Amplify's Sophy Vanner Critoph delineates the agency's strategy for supporting working parents and what policies/programs are in place to help all employees thrive.

 

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

I have a dual role as Head of Strategy and UK agency lead, and contrary to sweeping assumptions, I’ve actually found my role easier since becoming a parent; gaining clarity, context and comfort in my day-to-day. However, this is only possible because I work in an ever-evolving agency founded by active parents. My leadership qualities feel super-charged; my levels of resilience, empathy, patience, decisiveness, and productiveness are now more impactful than ever.

 

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

We’re an independent agency, so have the freedom to easily explore different processes to positively affect our culture. While we have a broad and robust set of policies designed to provide limitless support for all people on their own life journeys, we are also focused on being proactive and creating bespoke support plans for our employees. For this to work, genuine relationships need to exist at all levels - not just relying on HR-focused roles, but empowering line managers and leadership to facilitate a supportive environment too.

When it comes to the holistic health of employees, parenting has to be part of a wider remit, considering all possible elements that make up that journey, including fertility, bereavement & loss, pregnancy, maternity & paternity and flexible working, to name a few. There’s no one size fits all answer, so having consistent communication is essential in enabling individual reasonable adjustments. Ensuring both women and men have the space to be the kind of caregiver they want to be is key, by offering flexibility around appointments and sickness, to ‘settling in days’ and school holidays, equality needs to be encouraged.

We implement adjusted hours for those who need them, ensuring core working hours are met, while offering flexibility around childcare. As a global business, we already encourage adjusted hours for those working across different markets, so why should childcare be any different? Ensuring our employees feel empowered to make these changes without constant approval is key; we lead from the front and have parents and caregivers in every part of the business working in this way.

Wider policies that ensure flexibility and fairness for parents, caregivers and those without dependents is key to nourishing a supportive environment, and our ‘work from anywhere’ policy offers 2 weeks of exactly that - we’re also working on a revised sabbatical policy for the same reasons. Like most, we also run a hybrid office working model where we have 3 core office days, giving us important in-person time together, and 2 equally important days working from home. This can add important flexibility to parents around drop-off and pick-ups - and without commute time, can equate to more quality time with their children.

As with everything, the more external support and inspiration we can draw on, the better - and so we’re always looking for ways to explore allyship and understanding across a breadth of topics, as well as training for different roles within the business. We want everyone to be an empathetic employee and respect and celebrate their peers as the individual humans they are.

 

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

Depictions of parenting realities in ads seem to be more commonly born from real human insight and perhaps even created by parents, such as the ‘Second Best’ ad from IKEA bringing home the truth behind all those unused purchases, the new series of ads from Airbnb has family travel nailed, and Monopoly reminding families that fighting is good.

"Bedtime" Airbnb

"SMÅGÖRA cot" Proudly Second Best | IKEA

Beyond the world of ads, there are opportunities to create more integrated brand stories through clever partnerships. Parents all have people, communities and entities they rely on to be a 24/7 support village from their phones. The power of influence in this space has shifted dramatically into the worlds of these creators, communities and partnerships, and while a lot of this work happens BTL, brands are now seeing their money is better spent here, with more impact and relevance being delivered through culturally on-point collaborations. 

And as always, this continues to prove that the focus should be who’s around the table creating the work - and parents certainly need to be in there.