Boss I'd like to work for!

May 23, 2006

Here’s a boss that seems to have gotten it a long time ago! Gay Gaddis is president and founder of t3 an advertising and marketing agency. She recently wrote an article for Fortune Small Business about how she changed her company’s maternity (and now parenting) policy when faced with the situation of four executives announcing their pregnancies within six weeks.

We had fewer than 25 employees at the time, and the soon-to-be moms were our head of publicity, a media buyer, the manager of print production, and a senior account executive. Each had client and supplier relationships that were vital to our business. Plus, conducting four executive searches at the same time would be costly.

So I decided to try something radical. A few months before they left for maternity leave, I invited the women to bring their babies to work when they returned. From my own experience as a mother of three, I know what a horrible feeling it is to leave your very small baby in the hands of someone else.

Did it work? And how!

The moms were so thrilled to be close to their babies that none ever dropped the ball when it came to work. When one had to run to a meeting, another babysat. We made sure employees who couldn’t stand the sound of crying babies didn’t sit near the “romper room.”

As we grew to become the $60-million-a-year company that we are today–we now have 150 employees who fill six historic homes in Austin and an office in New York City–additional moms and even dads brought their babies to work.

Crucial to company morale, Gaddis took her non-parent employees into consideration in crafting the policy and also chose to limit on-site babycare to nine-month olds and going the route of daycare afterwards. Seems to have worked, at least if you believe the numbers! Without being sexist, I think the key to this is the fact that the founder and president is a woman who was a working mom and knew what it was like to have to balance vocation and family!