The issue of parental leave is something that many people struggle with in the United States. Not only mothers, but also fathers struggle as well to find pay or adequate coverage while on leave when expecting a new child. Currently living in Los Angeles, Michelle Meyer decided that she wanted to do something that would make it easier for expecting parents, which is why she created Emissaries which launched in November 2015.
“Today in the United States, 87 percent of employees nationwide still don’t have paid family leave but policies are slowly improving. As the country makes it the norm to offer paid leave, take paid leave and cover those voids, Emissaries will inevitably see growth and more demand,” Meyer explained when asked how the company is currently doing. “Working moms need this for the health of their families and also for the health of their career development.”
She added, “Emissaries is not only a new company, but also a new service. As far as I’m aware, Emissaries is the first recruiting agency in the U.S. serving this niche.”
Emissaries has over 500 freelancers within their network to send out to companies to cover parental leaves. The freelancers vary in all specialties including copy editing, graphic design, HR reps, marketing and more.
The company that needs to fill the spot during the leave will interview candidates through Emissaries and then will select the one that they believe best fits. Meyer said they suggest for maximum benefit that the employer brings in the freelancer two weeks before the employee goes on parental leave in order to learn the ropes of the position. They then cover the leave of the parent and stay on for up to two weeks after the employee returns to ease the transition.”
As a woman herself, Meyer could relate to the issue that women have with trying to take time off to take care of their child. She realized that there was a need in the marketplace for a service like this and decided to step up and take the initiative.
“One in four employed mothers return to work within two weeks of childbirth which is crazy,” Meyer said.
She had experience in the past working as a freelancer in both LA and NY, often covering maternity leaves. The mothers she covered for and their colleagues were very appreciative and believing that she could take that experience and build on it, Meyer bootstrapped her way through the launching of Emissaries.
“Personally I feel like it has given me an edge as an entrepreneur to be female, especially to have launched a business that inherently supports working mothers,” Meyer said.
She elaborated, “My professional network has been incredibly supportive of my new venture and likewise, I aim to be supportive of my peers. For instance, I’m a board member of WIMMIES (Women in Media) and we host networking events that empower women to elevate their careers by connecting with other women in the digital media industry. The more women individually succeed in business, the more women collectively progress as equals in the workforce.”
The company eventually hopes to serve more clients and freelancers, aiming to grow the company in the future.
Evelyn Fiske is a junior, English major, at Western New England University. She loves tackling each day with a positive attitude and lots of coffee. Evelyn hopes to one day teach English in another country, with her biggest goal being to positively effect everyone she meets.