Oh there's nothing more we like than a good industry cat fight. And that’s what seems to be happening over in London after Sarah Shepard, mother of three, decided to return to work at CP+B London through the agency's Creative Equals' Returnship program. The Returnship program is designed to help mothers re-join the ad business.
So Shepard decided to return to work at CP+B
through the Returnship program. By her own account Shepard was overjoyed to get back to
All well and good, right? Sadly, no. In this day and age of knee-jerk outrage, not one happy moment can go by without someone getting pissed off. In this case, it was another mom, who anonymously wrote an open letter to Adland that was published by Campaign.
In the letter, anon mom wrote "This scheme is a step in the right direction and is, at the very least, shining a light on mums returning to work, but should we really celebrate the fact that these creative mums effectively have to return to work as an intern? She has had a baby, not a lobotomy. Do her previous years of hard graft and experience in the industry count for nothing? Why hasn’t she been brought back in at the level she was at previously? Surely some training could bring her up to speed pretty quickly?"
It seems anon mom is angered over the fact that Shepard, with over a decade of experience under her belt, was brought back as an intern. Well, according to CP+B CCO Dave Buonaguidi, that was not exactly the case. Responding to anon mom's letter, Buonaguidi, in another letter published by Campaign, wrote,
"What the Creative Equals initiative is doing is a great start, and if it helps encourage mums back into this archaic industry, brilliant, and if one mum can get an opportunity and then convert it, then it has been a huge success. Sarah is a very good writer. She accepted a paid opportunity to work full time in our creative team developing and pitching ideas, something she hadn’t done a lot of for a long time. For her to have an pportunity to retrain on the job with live briefs made a lot of sense to me. Her six weeks has turned into nearly five
months to date as testament to her talent. Initially we paid her as a 'Returner', taking into account her seniority and expertise, not an 'Intern'. And after the official returnship period, she has stayed with us at an industry standard freelance rate. I can’t think of any business on earth where you could take a ten-year break and then return on the same salary."
It seems Shepard is quite happy with her new gig. Anon mom thinks that's not enough. And Buonaguidi just wants everyone to know that he and CP+B are doing everything they can to stop simply talking about women's work issues and, rather, as Buonaguidi wrote, "The only way to change things is to stop talking about stuff and actually do something."
I'll let you decide whose version of the story best represents what's going on in this area.