Treat them well

4 maternity leaves and 6 kids in 2 years: What co-founder moms learned and how they reward employees now

Stipends, family grants, and flexibility motivate Kickstand employees
4 maternity leaves and 6 kids in 2 years: What co-founder moms learned and how they reward employees now
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Molly George is CEO and co-founder of Kickstand and has led communication programs from scaling startups to guiding B2B tech brands through successful IPOs. Her two young boys have made her great at being flexible, cheering obnoxiously at sporting events, and tolerating noises of unacceptable decibel levels.

“I’m pregnant…again.” It was 2018, I was four months back from my own maternity leave, and my co-founder, Kristina Kennedy, who had returned from her first maternity leave three weeks before, was planning for another leave. And that wasn’t all. Over two years, we navigated four maternity leaves and the addition of six children, where we doubled the size of our business and our families. Guiding the growth of our fast-growing public relations agency, Kickstand, at the height of our hustle years (and on a startup founder’s salary) required many serenity now moments.

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Our kids are now the best of buds, and we’re left with a strong perspective on the support and resources working mothers need. We felt the pain of the many challenges it comes with, and knew we wanted to be part of the solution.

While today many U.S. companies focus on parental leave as the primary solution, we believe working mothers, truly all caregivers, need resources, flexibility, the ability to pace their own careers, and more money. Here are four ways Kickstand is working to give our employees what they deserve:

Build your own parental leave

We provide 18 weeks of parental leave to be taken anytime during the first year following birth or adoption.

  • No work, 100% pay: 12 weeks fully paid, fully off.
  • Transition time: 6 additional weeks of fully paid, part-time work to help parents (not just birthing parents) transition back to work while maintaining financial security. By extending this benefit to the supporting partner, we help create a healthy load balance regarding the household and childcare responsibilities from the start.

Working parent stipends

The reality is parents’ needs are so individual–and they change over time.

  • Working parents at Kickstand get a $500 monthly stipend to help offset costs and help them be the best at their jobs and parenting.
  • Want to apply it towards daycare or nanny expenses? Great! Formula or diapers? Awesome! Want to outsource your laundry so you can actually spend your weekends enjoying your kids’ sporting activities or, I don’t know, relaxing a bit? The money is yours to use as you need.

Family planning grants

Often, the costs and challenges of being a parent start before a child enters the picture. We believe that everyone should have the ability to start a family when and how they choose.

  • Our family planning grants help cover the costs associated with reproductive assistance, adoption, fostering, surrogacy, and egg freezing, with contributions ranging from $500 to upwards of $10,000.
  • We shouldn’t just be accepting of employees’ personal milestones - we should be supporting them and celebrating them.

Flexibility—in the short and long term

Career growth ebbs and flows, and the early parenting years can have a particular impact on career trajectory.

  • For parents and non-parents alike, we have a flexibility-first culture. Need to have an errand or want to attend your kid’s school function on a random Tuesday afternoon? No problem.
  • Leaders and employees build action plans around not just job performance but short and long-term career and personal goals. This helps our leaders build the growth path that best aligns with their current stage of life.
  • You may come back from parental leave and have growth aspirations that are just as ambitious, or you may decide your growth timeline needs to stretch a bit to accommodate parenthood. Both are okay - but alignment is key to ensuring success.

We have to move beyond basics like parental leave and calendar-blocking hacks to support bringing our whole selves not just to work but to life. I may be unable to do anything about your baby waking up during the night or your teenager’s attitude problem. But if we can help our employees feel supported as a colleague and as a parent, I’ll take that as a step in the right direction.