Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Digital Women: Louise Mossman, Head of Talent Development, Havas UK on action not lip service

NDA’s Digital Women series is talking to leaders from across our industry to understand the particular challenges, and opportunities faced by women. Next up is Louise Mossman, Head of Talent Development, Havas UK.

What is the biggest opportunity for women in your sector of the digital industry today?

I believe that flexible working is a huge opportunity for women in our industry. Women often feel that they have to choose between a career and being a mother, and one unintended consequence of Covid is that they are now able to better balance their time and feel like they have the flexibility they need to be great parents while also thriving at work.

At Havas, we’re currently asking people to come in two to three days per week but it’s completely flexible depending on their role. We work to create a bespoke approach for each individual.

Flexible working is all about how you use your time. Our office is now a hub where we come together to collaborate and share ideas. We want people to spend some of their time in the office, but for the right reasons.

What is the biggest challenge to you as a woman in the digital industry and how are you overcoming it?

I think a lot of women in our industry face the challenge of maintaining and increasing their resilience and wellbeing, due to the demanding culture and fast pace that has traditionally existed within most agencies. Performance models need to recognise the role that people’s energy plays in their ability to do their job well.

I feel really lucky to be at Havas, where we take a prevention-over-cure approach to mental and physical wellbeing, with our award-winning Havas Equalise programme.

Havas Equalise aims to support every aspect of wellness, with bespoke sessions, weekly exercise classes, ‘Wellness Wednesday’ drop-in guided meditations, one-to-one coaching, personal development sessions, workshops, ‘lunch & learns’, and an array of different types of other sessions that speak to the many facets of wellness, from physical exercise and mindfulness through to financial health, nutrition and social connection.

We look at wellbeing as a metric on a regular basis to ensure our people are healthy and happy at work.

We’ve also introduced a partnership with Yulife, which encourages people to take part in healthy activities like walking and meditation by rewarding them with ‘YuCoins’ that they can redeem for vouchers at retailers like John Lewis and Amazon, as well as Garmin and others.

What three things could employer companies do to make the digital industry better for women?

Learning opportunities and leadership training for women

In our industry, learning to become a leader or manager is pivotal in a woman’s career, so support around these areas is fundamental.

At Havas, we have a fantastic programme called Femmes Forward, which we launched back in 2018. It provides skills and leadership training, talks with female leaders, career advancement planning and more to support women on their journey to senior management roles within the Havas Group. Recently, one of our Femmes Forward graduates, Jo Butler, was promoted to the role of Managing Partner, making her the second participant to join senior management since the programme launched alongside Julia Nicholls in 2019.

We also run something called, Havas Level Up, a first-of-its-kind apprenticeship programme for women and Black, Asian and minority ethnic employees, which we have developed in partnership with Hyper Island. Level Up gives people a deep dive into management as a craft and also has an amazing supportive layer, enabling participants to connect with their peers to share their experiences and challenges as women in the industry.

Support with transitions

In our fast-paced industry, a lot can change during a woman’s maternity leave. Therefore, it’s really important to provide an additional layer of support for mothers returning to work. We have a fantastic parental coaching programme within Havas Media Group, offering regular check-ins during mat leave and support on mothers’ return to the office, including three-way coaching sessions with line managers.

Equal pay

At Havas Media Group, we actively push for equal pay, and regularly publish our pay gap statistics, as well as benchmarking for all our roles. We have clear targets in place when it comes to getting women into leadership positions (also supported by our Femmes Forward programme).

What support structures and organisations are most important and effective to you as a woman in the digital industry?

It’s really important that agencies provide policies and initiatives to support women’s mental health. At Havas Media Group, we offer four Mental Health Days for all staff, on top of holiday allowance, with no questions asked, to allow people to take time out for their mental wellbeing when they need it.

Employee resource groups also play a valuable role. We have Women of Havas (WOH), a network of women who get together to run events, aiming to create a bridge into leadership, and celebrating and championing our female staff. We work together on topics that are impacting our women of today and look at how we drive change for the future, whilst also reacting to subject matter we feel our community and workplace need to address.