June brings a slew of Pride-themed clothing, food, alcohol, and ad campaigns, but marketing experts say brands need to go deeper than just dipping their toe in the rainbow. Here are some companies doing Pride right.


Say hello to Pride Month, a rainbow-hued celebration of LGBTQ+ folks. The month-long mix of parades, parties, and pasties reflects incredible social, political, and cultural leaps forward over the last few decades, ushering in a more welcoming environment for all who identify as queer.

Today, it’s common for corporations to acknowledge Pride Month. But for those people who have seen Pride celebrated every June of their lives, mere recognition is no longer enough.

This year’s festivities are shadowed by numerous pieces of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation that have passed or been proposed since last June, disproportionately affecting transgender Americans and queer youth. Savvy consumers are paying attention to which brands are true allies 365 days a year and which are just dancing down Rainbow-Washing Way. As corporate Pride campaigns in June have gone mainstream, there is mounting pressure from this newer cadre of consumers to make more tangible, substantial commitments to the LGBTQ+ community.

“One of the biggest pitfalls is when we see companies that only want to have this conversation in June,” shared Jean-Marie Navetta, Director of Learning and Inclusion at PFLAG National, an LGBTQ+ advocacy organization. “That is problematic because people who are queer are queer every single day and every single month of the year.”

Some of these rainbow-come-June companies have internal policies that discriminate against queer employees, engage in business practices that are actively damaging to the queer community, or support anti-LGBTQ+ politicians, prompting the term “rainbow-washing” — cashing in on Pride merchandise while doing little to support LGBTQ+ organizations.

But the good news is that some companies are knocking it out of Pride park by being true supporters of LGBTQ+ rights. Here are four organizations doing Pride right. All the companies listed rank high on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index, a nonprofit that is the national benchmark for corporate policies, practices, and benefits as they pertain to the LGBTQ+ community.

 

ABERCROMBIE & FITCH

A&F x The Trevor Project | Gender Inclusive ‘Pride Hoodie’

With a muted colorblock design reminiscent of LGBTQ+ flag colors, this oversized hoodie works for various shapes, sizes, and genders. It’s part of Abercrombie & Fitch’s gender-inclusive collection, co-created with The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ+ youth.

In support of Pride 2022 and their ongoing partnership, Abercrombie & Fitch is donating $400,000 to The Trevor Project, regardless of sales. To date, Abercrombie & Fitch has raised over $2.8 million for The Trevor Project.

Abercrombie & Fitch has long had comprehensive and inclusive benefits for U.S. Employees. Health insurance and other benefits are equivalent for different-sex and same-sex couples.

🏳🏳️‍🌈️‍ Received a perfect score of 100 on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index/Best Places to Work for LGBTQ+ for the last 16 years

ADIDAS

Adidas ‘Love Unites’ Print Pride Tracksuit

Queer artist Kris Andrew Small designed Adidas’ Pride capsule collection, which includes apparel, accessories, and footwear like limited edition Stan Smith Pride shoes. His work spreads a message of empowerment and support for the LGBTQ+ community. It’s inspired by the pop art and graphic design of the 1970s and 1980s, which helped shape his lens as a creative. In this doodle-driven print design are hidden messages of acceptance and self-love for people to discover.

Adidas’ goal for the collection was to bring visibility to the many voices of the LGBTQ+ community. They are continuing their partnerships with longtime British LGBTQ+ advocacy group Stonewall U.K. and Athlete Ally, an organization focused on ending homophobia and transphobia in sports.

🏳️‍🌈 Top-rated Brand: HRC Corporate Equality Index/Best Places to Work for LGBTQ+

APPLE

Apple Watch Pride Edition Sport Loop

Proud All Year Long is the tagline on the Apple.com website, clearly signaling their 365 days a year approach to supporting the LGBTQ+ community. In honor of Pride 2022, Apple has released two Apple Watch Pride Edition watchbands for 2022. The regular Sport Loop features the word “Pride” woven into the rainbow band, including shades of black, brown, and pink to recognize the trans, Black, and Latinx communities.

A darker Pride Edition Nike Sport Loop, featuring a matching rainbow-colored Nike Bounce face, honors “individuals who are expanding sport for future generations,” according to the company.

Apple continues to support many LGBTQ+ organizations like GLSEN — The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, The Trevor Project, and the Human Rights Campaign, among others. CEO Tim Cook came out as gay in October 2014, becoming the first “out” CEO of a Fortune 500 company. He famously said, “I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.”

🏳🏳️‍🌈 Top-rated Brand: HRC Corporate Equality Index/Best Places to Work for LGBTQ+

CHIPOTLE

Chipotle Pride 2022 Burrito 

Chipotle has been LGBTQ+-friendly from the beginning. The founder, Steve Ells, is an openly gay man. Though he stepped down as CEO in 2017, 27 years after founding this innovative chain, Chipotle continues to be an uber-inclusive company.

This year, Chipotle worked with its Pride employee resource group to identify key issues that members of the LGBTQ+ community face and, in response, developed its first-ever yearlong support program.

One of its new initiatives is partnering with Happy Hippie — a nonprofit organization founded by Miley Cyrus — whose mission is to fight injustice facing homeless youth, LGBTQ+ youth, and other vulnerable populations. The goal is to provide $250,000 in free Chipotle food to Happy Hippie’s partner LGBTQ+ centers across the United States so that they have real food throughout the year.

A longtime Pride supporter, Chipotle celebrates equality with its employees and customers. They offer enhanced paid parental leave for adoptive parents, same-sex couples, and paternity leave, and cover care and surgical costs for their trans employees.

🏳️‍🌈 Received a perfect score of 100 on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index/Best Places to Work for LGBTQ+

Bottom Line

Brands that are true allies 365 days a year are the ones whose rainbow ad campaigns speak to more than just jubilant June Pride celebrations. They are showing up for their LGBTQ+ employees and the queer community at large all year long by making tangible, substantial commitments beyond a kaleidoscopic marketing splash. To do Pride right, consider partnering with known LGBTQ+ organizations and take stock of how your internal policies align with your June Pride marketing.

 

About the author. 

An award-winning creator and digital health, wellness, and lifestyle content strategist—Karina writes, produces, and edits compelling content across multiple platforms—including articles, video, interactive tools, and documentary film. Her work has been featured on MSN Lifestyle, Apartment Therapy, Goop, Psycom, Yahoo News, Pregnancy & Newborn, Eat This Not That, thirdAGE, and Remedy Health Media digital properties and has spanned insight pieces on psychedelic toad medicine to forecasting the future of work to why sustainability needs to become more sustainable. 

Photo Credit: The Trash Project

Activism. What do you think when you hear that word? If confrontation, conflict, or danger arises, you wouldn’t be alone. But there’s a new trend in town: joyful activism, which is revolutionizing the act of working for change.


 

What catches more flies — vinegar or honey?

Joyful activism, a growing trend in social and environmental advocacy, follows this logic, seeking to inspire change in behavior through celebratory actions rather than by scaring or shaming people.

A bright example is TRASH Project, a public art project developed by artist Adrian Kondratowicz to inspire mindfulness about waste creation, while raising environmental awareness and beautifying urban spaces. Kondratowicz shares: “By activating public space with sculptures of color, TRASH sparks awareness about waste, sanitation, and consumption.”

The project entailed getting residents and business owners to put their garbage in the artist-created, hot pink polka dot trash bags (made of 80% post-consumer waste) — transforming standard piles of trash into flamboyant soft sculptures, a vivid homage to Claes Oldenburg.

Photo Credit: The Trash Project

We typically walk blithely past piles of garbage on city streets, but these vibrant bags are so strikingly different we cannot help but notice. And in the process of making the unseen seen, the artist invites us to stop and reflect on just how much we really throw away.

Joyful activism spurs change through the power of positive emotion.

When psychologists studied people engaged in communal dance, singing, or other rhythmic modes of entertainment, they found that people connected physically. Musicians playing the same melody have brain waves that sync up, and choir singers’ heart rates synchronize. Even when strangers move or sing together, they become more altruistic and generous. These synchronous experiences create a physiological sense of community that can be conscious or unconscious.

It is a notable feature of autocratic regimes that forms of joy are often banned. In Trinidad, the British banned drumming. In Mao’s China, listening to Beethoven was a crime, and in Nazi Germany, traditional Jewish music was verboten. The Soviet Union censored songs by artists across the musical spectrum, such as Tina Turner, AC/DC, and Julio Iglesias.

The Singing Revolution, a four-year series of protests marked by mass singing demonstrations, swept across Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania between 1987 and 1991, eventually helping lead to their independence from the Soviet Union. Matt Zoller Seitz from The New York Times described it like this: “Imagine the scene in ‘Casablanca’ in which the French patrons sing ‘La Marseillaise’ in defiance of the Germans, then multiply its power by a factor of thousands, and you’ve only begun to imagine the force of ‘The Singing Revolution.'” All of which goes to show that joy is a powerful and unifying force.

Dance, Dance, Revolution!

DAYBREAKER is an early morning, sober dance party that began in 2013 as an NYC-based social experiment and art project and has now evolved into a worldwide movement to increase mindfulness and ignite change through radical self-expression and joy.

DAYBREAKER launched the Cool Kids Club this past Earth Day, a collective described as “inspired humans determined to cool the planet through joyful climate activism.” In early 2022, DAYBREAKER took their unique brand of revelry on a trip around the globe as part of their Natüre Series, with a momentous stop this past March in Antarctica.

Photo Credit: Cool Kids Club 

As DAYBREAKER cofounder Radha Agrawal shared on Instagram: “When there’s shame & blame we get paralyzed into inaction…our goal is to invite the arts, joy, and belonging — not just to each other but to our ecosystem — into the conversation to magnetize more people into climate action.”

Connecting the dots between joy and freedom

“Recognize that pleasure is a measure of freedom,” writes Adrienne Maree Brown in her book Pleasure Activism, which centers on the premise that the things activists strive for — liberation, wellbeing, justice, and more — are highly joyful states, underscoring that pleasure can be a powerful tool for helping us achieve these aims. Working for change you believe in can be profoundly joyful and straight-up fun if done with the right people.

Can we dance and sing our way to a healthier planet? It might be not only the most fun way to tackle such a serious problem, but perhaps the most successful. Leading with joy may make us more receptive to making real and actionable change.

 

About the author. 

An award-winning creator and digital health, wellness, and lifestyle content strategist—Karina writes, produces, and edits compelling content across multiple platforms—including articles, video, interactive tools, and documentary film. Her work has been featured on MSN Lifestyle, Apartment Therapy, Goop, Psycom, Yahoo News, Pregnancy & Newborn, Eat This Not That, thirdAGE, and Remedy Health Media digital properties and has spanned insight pieces on psychedelic toad medicine to forecasting the future of work to why sustainability needs to become more sustainable. 

Eco-friendly. All-natural. Compostable. Zero-waste. Carbon-neutral. Made from recycled materials.

You’ve read these words hundreds of times, usually from companies trying to sell you products and peace of mind. But what do they really mean?

How does buying these products help the environment? Are they better than what you already have? Or, are they participating in a little something called “greenwashing” — making promises that either aren’t quite true or that distract you from other bigger problems that their company might cause?

The short and short of it is that sustainability and consumerism are inherently incompatible. Most greenwashing relies on misdirection. “Look at this little thing we’re doing over here” distracts consumers from manufacturing or logistics pipelines that create most waste and emissions. It’s a tale as old as climate activism and it started with the oil industry.

FOSSIL FUELS + TRANSPORTATION

Let’s start with the greatest scam of all. In 2006, BP, with the help of ad agency Ogilvy & Mather, coined the term “carbon footprint.” This propaganda ploy accomplished a vital task, shifting attention from corporate to personal responsibility when it comes to climate change, pollution, and environmental impact.

The phrase is still firmly cemented in the cultural zeitgeist as we look for ways to reduce our own. BP even started shifting their branding to “Beyond Petroleum” even though they are anything but. They were in fact the cause of the largest oil spill in history.

The origin story starts way before 2006, though. Chevron started way back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, running ads showing employees interacting with nature even when the company knew they were contributing to climate change. The transportation industry has tried to make even more green promises since then, but that doesn’t change that reliance on fossil fuels will never get us past a brownish gray. In spite of new ad campaigns like Shell’s greenwashing campaign, oil and gas are ruining our air and heating the planet and the industry has had concrete evidence of this since the 1980s. Why would you trust anything they say ever again?

Rugged truck brands that showcase commercials in mountains and open fields can be accused of greenwashing as they celebrate being closer to nature… as you simultaneously destroy it. Those gas guzzlers are extremely useful if you need them. If you’re a true laborer or adventurer that has to haul gear up and down mountain roads, much respect to you and your need for this vehicle. However, living in Miami, Florida I see way too many souped-up Jeeps that look more pristine than the obnoxious Ferraris along the street. There is no off-roading on Ocean Drive.

But is switching to electric any better? Well, that’s complicated, but not really. Not yet. Without the infrastructure to support electric charging, it’s not a practical solution for a lot of people. Plus the cost of making new cars, digging up materials for these batteries and vehicle structures, shipping them across the globe, etc. has its own carbon cost that may outweigh some of the long-term benefits if you’re not getting maximum use out of your vehicle. According to Car and Driver, “EV batteries are energy-intensive to manufacture, and there are humanitarian costs associated with mining the metals they rely on. Though EVs don’t emit greenhouse gases, the electricity they pull from the grid often does.”

That means it also depends on where you live and how electricity gets to you. In my home state of Florida, the majority of electricity is made by burning natural gas, which is pretty counterintuitive when trying to shift away from gasoline. However, if you live somewhere like Washington or Vermont where the majority of electricity is derived from renewable sources, then over the long term your electric investment might pay off, as “the life-cycle emissions of a small gas car will surpass those of a small EV after roughly 27,000 miles of driving.”

So in sum, it’s a higher carbon price to build an electric vehicle, but that cost is offset by the performance of the vehicle over the course of its lifespan. That still makes choices a lot more complicated, especially if you currently have a fully functional combustion engine car. Is buying a brand-new electric vehicle really the right move today?

FAST FASHION + TEXTILE WASTE

Zara, H&M, Forever 21, and now… Shein. What do these brands all have in common? They’re fast fashion brands that contribute tons of waste.

It’s a really toxic cycle that fashion brands and consumers are locked in. These companies produce hundreds of thousands of articles of new styles and clothes per year, and yet 60% of those will be thrown out within the year they were purchased. I’m sorry… WHAT?!

A lot of these brands have definitely made an effort, like H&M with their conscious choice line and product material and origin transparency. But that doesn’t change the fact that fast fashion is inherently not sustainable. Which is honestly a consumer issue as well. While corporations must make strides to look at their production, packaging, and shipping process, consumers need to stop demanding the latest craze of trend cycles, an area that has exploded with the rising popularity of Shein. The whole industry is built around people wanting more and more. (And that’s to not even touch the unethical labor practices of their overseas factories.)

So when a company, especially a fashion brand, makes claims about recycling and carbon-neutral practices… you may want to dig a little deeper. They might just be buying carbon credits, which is a step but doesn’t reduce their impact.

Still, some companies are doing good in the textile world, including Patagonia and Lucy & Yak. (That article also includes personal care brands like Dr. Bronner’s that don’t overhype their promises.)

SO WHAT THE HECK DO WE DO?

Trying to be an ethical consumer is quite frankly an existential nightmare. If you’ve ever watched The Good Place, you know what I mean. (Don’t click that link unless you want spoilers. The point of this clip is about halfway in.) So, what do we do? The best we can.

Obvious signs of greenwashing are when companies just use buzzwords and make big promises but don’t explain the how.

Akepa, an ad agency working exclusively with sustainable brands, does a pretty good job of tracking and pointing out examples like these nine companies with recent disingenuous campaigns.

A big one: companies that claim to recycle plastic. Single-use plastics are one of our biggest problems on the planet. Coca-Cola and Nestle are the companies producing the most plastic waste that DOES NOT get recycled. BlueTriton (owner of many popular water bottle brands) is currently in court over its “hyperbolic” sustainability claims.

So if a company is using plastic, they’re not helping the planet.

But what about companies that use compostable packaging? Well, you’ve got to check the details, because some of those require high heat levels that the average compost can’t handle. Those, unfortunately, end up in landfills, too.

See, I told you it was a nightmare.

If you have the time to check in on the ethical practices of a company, do so. If you don’t, do your best. Shopping smaller and locally will often help. Having some “go to” places to shop can help, too. That way your research can go towards a place where you can keep shopping.

But the number one thing we can do as individuals is to just buy fewer things we don’t really need, even if you’re replacing something with a product that is “zero-waste.” For example, if you already have a plastic product, don’t throw it away and replace it with a bamboo one. But if your plastic product is on its last leg and you need to replace it, then making the switch is a great idea.

There are tons of resources out there to help us make better choices, but more importantly, we need to let large corporations know we’re not falling for their empty promises, fudged statistics, and public gaslighting anymore.

 

About the author.

Alessandra is your friendly neighborhood writer, coach, and facilitator with a varied history of experience from digital agencies and corporations to yoga studios and gyms. Her expertise and interests range from fitness and wellness to self-care and personal development to intersectionality and justice to science and creative cultivation. She has worked on and off with Creative Circle since 2014, originally as an NYC recruiter, later as an internal sourcer, and currently as a community wellness and culture specialist as well as a contributing writer for this here blog. You can find up-to-date offerings or sign up for her newsletter at alessandracalderin.com.

 

Generally speaking, the solution for the average freelancer is to make sure your rates are high enough to cover the costs of the benefits you don’t automatically receive in your contract. 


Freelancing is hard. In addition to finding work, chasing down invoices, and managing sudden changes in income, freelancing typically comes without automatic access to the benefits that full-time employees receive.

Let’s take a look at the benefits freelancers have to make up for with their own time, money, and resourcefulness, and go over our options.

Disclaimer: I do not advise or endorse any of these options. I am not qualified to give health, financial, or legal advice. I also don’t endorse any of the organizations mentioned by name. They are just examples. This is just a simple informational layout to get you started.

Health Insurance

Because the United States is one of the only wealthy nations without single-payer healthcare, most Americans rely on their employers for health insurance. In fact, in a study of the healthcare systems of the 11 wealthiest nations, the United States came in dead last… by a lot. A big reason for this is a lack of equitable access and the fact that navigating the wild world of insurance policies can feel like wading through a Boschian hellscape.

Having a solid insurance provider can mean the difference between saving for retirement and bankruptcy, if not life and death. So what’s a freelancer to do?

The absolute easiest way to have health insurance is to have a spouse or domestic partner with a workplace plan. Doesn’t scream “independence,” but if you’re in a stable relationship and it works for you, it makes life a lot easier.

If you’re 26 or under, you can also remain on your parents’ insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Again, not for everyone, especially if you can’t rely on your parents, but another easier option if it’s available to you.

You can also qualify for Medicaid if you meet the Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) requirements or other need-based requirements or Medicare if you are 65+ years old.

Beyond that, it’s a wild world of marketplaces. You can use the public marketplace through the Affordable Care Act, private marketplaces through individual insurers, or a health sharing network which usually is religious in nature (but there might be a secular one out there).

You can also use something like Oscar Insurance, which is a private insurance company that offers more affordable options, or Freelancers Union which is an organizational network of freelancers that offers a range of benefits with the cost of membership. There’s also COBRA if you’re leaving a full-time role to freelance and want to continue your current plan (although it can be pretty pricey).

Creative Circle freelancers also have access to a range of plans through a vendor called Benefits in a Card (BIC) throughout assignments. The details are emailed to every CC freelancer upon accepting an assignment.

All that said, plenty of people opt out of insurance coverage and pay out of pocket whenever they need something. That strategy is obviously dicey though, especially in the event of an unanticipated emergency.

TL;DR — here are some of your top options:

  • Get married or domestic partnered to someone with insurance.
  • Stay on your parents’ insurance if you can.
  • Check if you qualify for Medicare or Medicaid.
  • Shop for public insurance at healthcare.gov.
  • Check out insurance options through an organization like Freelancers Union.
  • Shop for private insurance or try a consumer-focused alternative like Oscar.
  • If you’ve left a full-time role, use COBRA to extend your benefits.
  • Look into a health-sharing network.
  • If you’re freelancing for Creative Circle, you’ll have access to plans through Benefits in a Card.
  • Go without and use out-of-pocket payment plans and discounts if anything comes up.

For a more in-depth look at healthcare options for freelancers, check out this nifty blog post.

Indemnity + Liability Insurance

Depending on what you do, you may need some kind of professional liability and/or indemnity insurance. The purpose of liability and indemnity insurance is to protect you if someone tries to sue you, whether you make an error or they’re injured in your office space. There’s a lot of debate as to whether you really need it, but it all comes down to what you do and what your risk tolerance is. Most folks arguing for liability insurance are trying to sell it to you, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re wrong. Even for freelancers with solid engagement agreements and disclaimers, a signature may not protect you everywhere.

For more info, check out Freelancers Union.

More Insurance?

There’s also media insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, and business interruption insurance. What?? But if you want to be covered for every kind of scenario, I guess you have options. In researching for this piece I came across this article about a freelance journalist who got sued. Luckily the publication he wrote for defended him, but if you’re writing about touchy subjects and people who might take offense to your words, media insurance may be something to consider.

Check out more solid advice here. And, of course, you can consult with a lawyer, accountant, or other professional to see what your specific needs might be.

Sick Pay, Paid Time Off, + Unemployment

The great part of freelancing is you can choose your time off. The downside, of course, is you don’t get paid for it. While some sick pay options were granted during peak COVID in the form of tax breaks, that seems to be over permanently. Ditto for unemployment benefits which were offered to a certain extent under the CARES Act as Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, in addition to PPP loans which played a similar role in replacing lost wages. However, now that those funds and programs are running out, we’ll probably land right where we started.

Some states do have sick leave laws, so you’ll have to check to see if your location qualifies you for any sort of compensation (which Creative Circle does apply to its candidates in those states), but if you’re contracting or working with your own private clients, it likely won’t apply to you either way.

The solution for the average freelancer is to make sure your rates are high enough to cover yourself when you fall ill or want to take a vacation. However, places like Freelancer’s Union now offer plans you can pay into to receive paid leave benefits.

Parental Leave

When it comes to parental leave, freelancers will have to make hard choices about how they want to manage their business. Reducing clients, ending projects, and taking time off to care for a little one without even a partial paycheck to balance the load can be stressful and intimidating. Unfortunately, the United States has no mandated protections in place for expecting contractors, and few if any companies offer any sort of benefits to freelancers or part-time employees. (They aren’t even required to pay their full-time employees on paternity leave, just guarantee they will have a job upon their return after 12 weeks. And that’s just for the birthing parent.) All we can do is our best to plan and save for any intended leave of absence.

Tax Withholdings

Odds are when you’re freelancing, you’ll get a 1099-NEC or 1099-MISC (this differentiation is new) at the end of the year instead of a W-2 which is what someone employed full-time would get. (Why are tax forms so complicated??) That means you don’t automatically pay your taxes with each paycheck. My first freelancing gig in 2012 had me on a 1099 and I, a fresh out of college financially illiterate noob had no idea I was supposed to save some of those paychecks for tax time. I got slapped with a hefty bill and was very freaked out.

We live, we learn, and now I meticulously calculate every little thing. I keep a running spreadsheet that tracks my income, business expenses by category, quarterly estimated tax payments, and more. Some folks with larger businesses might prefer a more automated system like QuickBooks; others may hire their own bookkeeper. It all depends on how much you make and how much time you have. There are tons of financial planners and accountants that can help you make the best decision for your business if you are like me and didn’t get the tax 101 in your younger years.

Here’s a more in-depth look from TurboTax. But remember, there are FREE sources for filing taxes online if you want to do this yourself and not pay for TurboTax. There is an episode of Hasan Minaj’s Patriot Act that dives deep into TurboTax.

Note: If you’re freelancing for Creative Circle, you’ll actually receive a W-2, so as long as you fill in the right deductions, you won’t have to worry about withholdings while on assignment.

Retirement Savings

Another arena where freelancers are on their own is when it comes to retirement savings. While some salaried roles may offer a pension (which is unfortunately way less common for non-government jobs these days) or a 401K plan (hopefully one they match), a freelancer must save on their own. The most common options would be a Traditional or Roth IRA, and there are also some folks who can put together their own 401K plan if they make enough. Consulting with a financial professional would be a good option if you don’t know where to start. Many institutions like Fidelity also offer assistance to prospective account holders.

Wellness + Transportation

While this one is more of a perk, it’s important to consider how much money you’re spending in these areas. Some wellness costs like gym memberships can be offset through health plans. Meanwhile, transportation should either be factored into your rates or negotiated into a contract if you have to travel onsite for meetings and projects, especially with rising gas prices.

Are you a freelancer? Do you have more tips or questions about navigating the wild world of our unhinged and unsupported reality? I’d love to hear from you! Feel free to email me: acalderin@creativcircle.com

 

About the author. 
Alessandra is your friendly neighborhood writer, coach, and facilitator with a varied history of experience from digital agencies and corporations to yoga studios and gyms. Her expertise and interests range from fitness and wellness to self-care and personal development to intersectionality and justice to science and creative cultivation. She has worked on and off with Creative Circle since 2014, originally as an NYC recruiter, later as an internal sourcer, and currently as a community wellness and culture specialist as well as a contributing writer for this here blog. You can find up-to-date offerings or sign up for her newsletter at alessandracalderin.com.

Can we all agree to just stop using some phrases when it comes to parents and work?


“Working mom” is at the top of my list. No one calls my husband a working dad, yet he takes on just as much responsibility with our children as I do. No one asked him if he was returning to work after our children were born, yet that was a hotly debated topic in my circle. When I was pregnant with my son back in 2016, a friend of mine expressed sincere shock that I was planning to return to work after I had the baby. Nothing will give you back those precious years; how could you waste them at work? I cried for two days straight because of comments like these. Okay, some of it was hormones, but I was still upset.

Then I realized, I am a better mother because I work. I don’t judge my friend for giving up her career; everybody should make the choices that make the most sense for themselves and their families. But I like my job, I like my coworkers, and I feel like they make me, well, me. In fact, I was excited to come back from parental leave because it felt like getting back to myself. I’ve spent years building my career, so having the professional part of my life stop abruptly to focus on a new baby was incredibly jarring.

For me, there was so much worth in turning that part of my brain back on and realizing the contribution I can make to people outside of my household. I feel valued by my coworkers in a much different way than I feel valued as a mother or spouse. I realized that I need both in my life. It also sets an example not only for my daughter, who is too young right now to understand, but also for my son who sees that a woman can be both a mommy and a boss and that those two things are not mutually exclusive.

Returning to work was an adjustment. In fact, going back to the NYC rat race after my first child was born was more jarring than the sudden stop. The pace, the commute, and getting back into that swing took time. There was a much easier transition back after my second child, who was born during the pandemic. I didn’t have the opportunity to see friends or much family, so the feeling of external judgement wasn’t there anymore. It was also a much more manageable process easing back in the second time around.

Back to the subject of phrases that should be retired — “work-life balance” is next on my list. There was never a balance for me; the scales tip one way or the other and your attention needs to shift where the load is the heaviest. The idea of an uninterrupted, harmonious balance is an unachievable concept that sets us all up for failure.

Now that many of us have spent the better part of two years working from home, that scale is broken… gone for good. Kids interrupt your Zoom meetings, you take work calls at 8:00 p.m. while cleaning up from dinner, and there is never any break or differentiation between home and work. It is all one and the same. So how do you achieve perfect balance when there is no separation? You don’t.

It can often feel like we live in a constant state of no winning. There is no help, no life raft, especially with small children. You try your best to be present, but you are constantly splitting your focus between all the people that need you. You feel depleted with no end in sight. But you keep going and take some solace in the fact that we are all in it together and that your situation is not unique.

My employer gets it. I work for an organization that understands we’re whole people and that we don’t work in a vacuum. What happens in the world or within your own home impacts your work. And that’s okay. I’m lucky that my employer offers parental leave when so many others do not. And I’m lucky to have a team who understands that life happens and gets in the way of work sometimes. What is shocking to me is how many organizations do not realize that. So many parents are trying to fit within the constraints of a professional box that was built for another time and another place with different expectations.

There are easy days and difficult days, but what keeps me going is knowing that I, like every other “working mom” out there, am doing the best I can. And sometimes my focus needs to be on taking care of myself when I can’t take care of everyone else. Thankfully I have a partner who is in it with me, and we work through it together.

 

Author.

Lauren Ferrara is the Creative Circle VP of Recruiting & Delivery. She’s also a wife and mother of two.

 

What do people want from their jobs: WFH? Higher salary? Opportunities for career growth? Job security? Progressive company culture? Or is it something completely different — like joy? 


Productivity is driven by compensation, right? Not so fast…

Conventional wisdom says that if we just pay employees enough, they’ll be more productive. But it turns out there’s something more at play.

Here’s a mind-blowing fact: happy employees make for a more successful company. Research connecting productivity and employee happiness is revolutionizing how some innovative companies structure their culture and compensation (and no, that does not include slashing salaries and bonuses).

Surprise. Sadness. Fear. Disgust. Anger. Joy. Say hello to the six primary universal emotions. Joy is connected to thriving, which tells us when we’re moving towards things that can help us succeed. And little moments of joy can radically improve work performance.

A study cited by Harvard Business Review is part of a growing body of research chronicling the impact of a positive organizational environment for employers, employees, and yes — the bottom line. And the cost of disengagement is high. Studies by the Queens School of Business and the Gallup Organization showed that disengaged employees had:

  • 60% more errors and defects
  • 49% more accidents
  • 37% higher absenteeism

A lack of happiness could be costing your company — a lot. Economists at the University of Warwick conducted a study that found that unhappy workers were 10% less productive overall. In contrast, those that were happy had a 12% spike in productivity, which led the research team to conclude that “human happiness has large and positive causal effects on productivity. Positive emotions appear to invigorate human beings.”

Joy was also found to beneficially impact working memory by 12%, an essential function of our brains that helps us complete work and tasks. If businesses can get 12% more productivity by injecting more joy into the workplace, it may be time to recraft company practices to help up-level joy in your workplace.

Yes, all jobs have aspects that are challenging and tedious. The goal is not to magically get rid of those aspects of work, but rather to focus on making work as happy as it can be.

Professor Andrew Oswald, one of the three Warwick study researchers, noted that “companies like Google have invested more in employee support and employee satisfaction has risen as a result. For Google, it rose by 37 percent; (and) they know what they are talking about. Under scientifically controlled conditions, making workers happier really pays off.”

Financial incentives alone are not enough to kick productivity into high gear. If you want to attract and retain top talent, providing the framework for an overarching purpose is vital. Igniting joy in the workplace requires a proactive approach that creates feelings of appreciation, wellbeing, and worth within a team.

Here’s how to spark more joy in the workplace:

  1. Make work more meaningful. A joyful workplace starts with employees committed to its mission, vision, and values. Ensure people understand what they are working toward and what their role is in achieving that aim. People want to feel that they are essential to their team’s success, regardless of their job title. When they can see how their accomplishments contribute to achieving a business’s overarching goals, they gain a deeper sense of purpose and fulfillment.
  2. Acknowledge good work. Did you know that feeling underappreciated is the number one reason Americans leave their jobs? People want to be appreciated, and expressions of gratitude and appreciation help cultivate joy in the workplace. A simple “thank you” or “job well done,” particularly after completing a challenging project, can go a loooong way. Studies show that doubling the number of employees who regularly receive recognition has a powerful snowball effect, resulting in a 24% rise in work quality and a 27% reduction in absenteeism, among other benefits.
  3. Craft a company culture centered on building relationships and community. Fun fuels joy. While it may not be a cardinal rule, it’s pretty close. Organizing team events where employees play, laugh, and solve problems together goes a long way to cultivating a culture of happiness and community.
  4. Make storytelling part of your company culture. Teach important values through the stories told about company history, founding, and vision for the future. Encourage teams to share these stories with new teammates and the world. This storytelling pattern will deepen the sense of company culture, augmenting a sense of belonging as this history becomes part of an individual’s story.
  5. Be the joy. It has been said that bosses command, but leaders influence. Ingrid Fetell Lee, former design director for IDEO and author of Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness, writes that in an office context, studies show that managers who exhibit more joy had teams who completed their work more quickly and cohesively. It turns out that joy feeds productivity and is contagious, too!

The Bottom Line

Want sustainable high performance for your company? Want to retain your best employees and attract top talent? Make joy a strategic imperative. Crafting a company culture that taps into the productive powers of joy and a strong sense of shared purpose and belonging is just smart business.

About the author.

An award-winning creator and digital health, wellness, and lifestyle content strategist—Karina writes, produces, and edits compelling content across multiple platforms—including articles, video, interactive tools, and documentary film. Her work has been featured on MSN Lifestyle, Apartment Therapy, Goop, Psycom, Yahoo News, Pregnancy & Newborn, Eat This Not That, thirdAGE, and Remedy Health Media digital properties and has spanned insight pieces on psychedelic toad medicine to forecasting the future of work to why sustainability needs to become more sustainable.