The industry needs to reform its leave policies to support the 1 in 4 affected by miscarriage

This Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, M&C Saatchi's CEO, Justin Graham, addresses what our industry can do to support those affected by miscarriage.

Recently, M&C Saatchi’s THIS Film Studio and Neon Jane Productions released Misunderstandings of Miscarriage on Nine’s streaming service Stan. Those who have watched the documentary since its release will understand how incredibly raw the film is and how it speaks to not only women, and existing or expecting mothers, but fathers, friends, family and those who, one day, might want to start a family.

For those yet to watch, Misunderstandings of Miscarriage follows Australian actress and filmmaker Tahyna MacManus on her four-year experience of pregnancy and miscarriage, debuting in line with Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month this October.

And its impact is why, at M&C Saatchi, we have updated our special compassionate leave policy, ensuring it is available to both mums and dads equally.  Should a miscarriage happen at any time during the pregnancy, our people are able to take the time they need, regardless of gender.

The film is currently on Stan

Currently, Fair Work Australia doesn’t recognise a loss prior to 12 weeks, with no provision in place despite the fact that 98% of losses occur prior to 12 weeks. That translates to approximately 100,000 couples each year not receiving validation that their loss matters. From a position that spans both a professional and personal standpoint, it is moments like these, when we work on such socially important projects, that we must step back and take stock, evaluating what we draw from the experience and how to incorporate it into our lives and businesses. Essentially, we need to ask, ‘What can I do?’

In Australia, we are a team of almost 500 with many mothers, fathers, partners, carers, aunties, uncles and godparents among us.

Our families, immediate and extended, are why we get up every morning and create the work that we do. We are focussed on continuing to create a culture which fosters humanity and brings light to topics like this which really impact our people. And, more often than not, this is a subject where women and men suffer in silence. Our culture encourages having brave conversations and allowing people to share all of their lives and, in return, being able to support them in the unfortunate times when they may need us most.   

Our new leave update seeks to build on our existing policy, which also includes support through our HR department or our confidential and free Reach Out program offering support from psychologists. We also give our employees access to leave for pregnancy related illnesses. To put it simply, we believe that it is important that special compassionate leave is offered equally to mums and dads. As it stands, many organisations only offer to pregnant women, however, we are choosing to acknowledge there are many ways to have a child and be a parent, including same sex parents, and recognise that the impact on men may be just as traumatic.

I know that I can speak for the whole of our business here in Australia when I say that we are proud to be part of Tahyna’s incredible personal journey. On a personal level, I am grateful that she has opened up such an important conversation that acts as a stark reminder that sometimes things do not go to plan during pregnancy. Sadly, pregnancy loss is a common reality, with one in four pregnancies ending in miscarriage. 

I encourage our local industry leaders to watch the documentary on Stan and go on Tahyna and Tristan’s journey. It will no doubt help you to understand the physical, emotional and psychological impact of miscarriage and to open up a conversation that may help normalise pregnancy loss and champion progress in areas of education and legislation. 

Justin Graham is CEO of M&C Saatchi


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