Havas Germany creates a flexible working environment where employees are empowered to grow

Thus helping to facilitate a supportive and empathetic environment for working parents

кем India Fizer , AdForum

Havas Germany
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Düsseldorf, Germany
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Melanie Stegemann
Head of Human Resources Havas Germany

Havas Germany's Director of Human Resources, Melanie Stegemann, speaks on her experiences in motherhood informing her work overseeing the People Experience of all German subsidiaries of the Havas Creative Network and the Havas Health & You Network.


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

As HR Director, I oversee the People Experience of all German subsidiaries of the Havas Creative Network and the Havas Health & You Network. Together with my team and our management, I strive to shape the best possible workplace for all employees, where everyone is not only encouraged to be themselves but also empowered to grow and have fun in their work.

What helps me in this multifaceted role is certainly my background: Coming originally from the account field, I have an in-depth comprehension of the needs of our teams and the dynamics of our industry. As a parent who used to work part-time, I have personally experienced the challenges associated with balancing career and motherhood, especially at a time when societal conditions were significantly more challenging. That's why this balance is truly a matter of the heart to me.

Parenthood teaches you a range of useful skills that help me create a supportive and empathetic environment for our employees. These include patience (to a certain extent ;-)) and compassion, the ability to maintain calm amidst chaos, effective communication and collaboration skills, as well as the ability to prioritize. These skills, for me, form a good combination for addressing the diverse challenges we face in the HR field especially in a fast-paced industry like ours.


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

At Havas Germany, we are actively committed to offering flexible work arrangements that meet the diverse needs of our working parents. This includes flexible part-time models and working hours that apply equally to fathers and mothers. A notable feature of our agency is that we have various male Creative Directors and leaders who work on part-time models, emphasizing that flexible work arrangements do not have to be gender specific.

Additionally, we offer sick child pay to support parents in challenging situations and to allow them to be there for their families. Furthermore, our working model was democratically developed and implemented by a cross-section of all employees several years ago, with parents playing a significant role in this process. This model was created to accommodate the needs of all employee groups and ensure that everyone receives the support and flexibility they need to achieve a healthy balance between work and private life.


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

In brand communication, we observe a growing trend away from traditional stereotypes and towards a more inclusive portrayal of parenthood. More and more often, we see men in classic household scenes or parents in home office situations with their children. This shift reflects the diversity of today's family models and contributes to overcoming outdated notions of parenthood.

Although this development sends positive signals and demonstrates that the communication industry recognizes a desired state, we must remain realistic and acknowledge that we still have a long way to go. For example, statistics from 2022 for Germany show that only 8% of fathers with children under 6 years old were working part-time, compared to 71.5% of women. This disparity, as with other underrepresented combinations of parenthood, highlights that despite progress, barriers still exist that need to be overcome. It is important for agencies and brands to continue actively working to promote a more inclusive portrayal of parenthood and to meet the needs of all parents. And this requires not only adjusting visual representation but also profound changes in corporate culture and work practices to establish flexible work models and a supportive environment.