UAE-based digital marketing and PR agency made headlines earlier this year with their announcement for policy change offering their female employees paid leave for menstruation, fertility, and other women-related health matters. In an exclusive interview to Communicate, Natasha Hatherall, Founder and CEO; Polly Williams, Managing Director at TishTash Communications discuss why organizations need to prioritize women’s health to retain women in the workplace.
The dynamics for women in the workplace are more pronounced than ever. We’re witnessing women across various industries acting against evident gender biases and barriers. McKinsey’s latest Women in Workplace Report revealed how women in leadership today are switching jobs at higher rates than men. Despite evident findings, the debate around what women want from their workplace rages on.
TishTash Communications, an independent integrated communications agency based out of the UAE, announced an internal policy allowing women in their workforce to apply for paid leave when going through menstruation, miscarriage, menopause, and fertility treatments. The policy change comes as a part of the agency’s efforts to understand and support the healthcare needs of women in the workplace.
Communicate sat down with Founder & CEO, Natasha Hatherall, and Polly Williams, Managing Director at TishTash Communications to discuss the policy and the various factors that led them to introduce it.
In image above, from left to right: Polly Williams, Managing Director at TishTash Communications; Natasha Hatherall, Founder and CEO of TishTash Communications
Prioritizing women’s health
Hatherall went public about her IVF journey in 2021. She explains how she was fortunate enough to take the time she needed to during this time and wants to extend the opportunity to her team, further creating a supportive environment for them. “We’ve always been active advocates for women’s health. And as someone who’s been through a very public journey with IVF, I wanted to make sure that no one had to go through something as serious as a fertility treatment with the strain to deliver at work as well. We’ve been running training programs, partnering with healthcare providers to help women in our agency who might be looking to freeze their eggs, or are going through fertility treatment,” she explains.
The policy entails that all women employees are allowed to take up to six days of menopause or menstrual leave per year, these are not a part of the employees’ personal or sick leave. They have the option to work from home to prioritize comfort as well. Women are also eligible to take 10 days leave off work if the pregnancy ends before 24 weeks at the agency as a part of the policy change.
Trust in the workplace and its culture
Williams further explains how they’ve taken their responsibility towards maintaining a healthy and respectful work environment, very seriously since the beginning. “Flexible working was always a part of our work culture. Post-pandemic, hybrid working became extremely important and that’s when we introduced a four-and-a-half-day work week. A policy for women’s health was naturally the next step. It didn’t come out of nowhere. We've always been very flexible in terms of where people work, how people work - as long as they’re dedicated to getting the job done. Moreover, as an organization with a 100% female workforce and with women from all age groups working with us, conversations around women’s health, and cultural diversity have started opening up. So, we wanted to make sure we were creating policies that worked for everyone across the spectrum.”
Research demonstrates a direct correlation between organizational trust and performance. Adding onto that observation, Williams emphasized how organizations can only implement policies like these if employers can trust their workforce. “If you have a culture where you don't trust your staff, and you're keeping a tab on when they leave the office, there's no way you can make policies like this work. Unless you don’t have a work culture that empowers your staff and is based on trust, such policies aren’t going to work,” she says.
Hatherall further added that through this public announcement, they aim to create a “ripple effect,” pushing the advertising and marketing network in the region to consider the adoption of HR policies, training programs, and workshops dedicated to women’s health and well-being.
“Although we’ve been doing this for long, going public seemed like the only way we could push for change. Millions of women are leaving the workforce every single year for reasons that aren’t even considered important enough to assess. And, if we don't use our voice, then I think we're doing a disservice to women in the workplace in this region,” concluded Williams