26 January, 2020

Maternity leave no barrier to promotion at Brown-Forman

Maternity leave no barrier to promotion at Brown-Forman

Brown-Forman Marketing Manager Marisa Murray is proof that pregnancy doesn't have to hinder the chances of a promotion.

Murray became Marketing Manager of the Jack Daniel's family of brands while on maternity leave, after only working at the company for a few years.

"I am very excited about my new role, I didn't want the fact I was on maternity leave to hold me back," she says. "Although it was also a tough decision as I loved being off on maternity leave with my new little bub.” 

While she was not actively engaging in work on maternity leave, Murray stayed in touch with her colleagues and made her intentions for a promotion clear to her boss when she saw an opening arise.

“I kept in touch with work via email and was in regular contact with Natalia Accari who was previously in my current role and also my boss”, she explained. “Once I knew she had been promoted to a position in the US, I spoke to our marketing director and HR department to make sure they were aware I was interested in the promotion.”

Murray underwent a normal interview process and found being on maternity leave was not a deterrent to being considered for the promotion.

Moreover, the company has been incredibly accommodating since returning to work with her new position and a new baby at home.

“It is a challenging role to have a lot of flexibility…[However] Brown Forman has been flexible with my transition back to work which has been great and I hope that continues.”

Brown-Forman has activity embraced diversity policies and groups. It has an LGBT support group (PRIDE), Strategic Progressive Leaders and Achievers with a Shared Heritage (SPLASH), Growing Remarkable & Outstanding Women (GROW) and many more.

Murray said it had been wonderful to have the support and resources of GROW.

“Brown Forman have a number of initiatives to drive this but key one for me is our GROW project," she noted. "This is about capitalizing on the potential of women within our business.”

However, like many companies, Murray admits there is still room for improvement when it comes to women in senior positions.

While she doesn’t personally feel she has been directly impacted by diversity, her “biggest challenge is still that there is not as many women in senior director level positions in marketing."

“It seems odd to me as the majority of marketing teams I have worked on seem to be predominantly female but the senior leaders are mainly men," she says.

“I understand there are a number of reasons for this but I really want to challenge that and become a future female director.”

To help achieve her goals, Murray has joined the drinks association's Women in drinks program and has a mentor.

Although Murray has not had a chance to attend many formal Women in Drinks Mentoring Program events, she believes the initiative is highly beneficial to the industry.

"I really think the [mentoring program] is a step in the right direction to grow female senior leadership within drinks", she said. "I personally thought joining the program was great for my career development as i am relatively new to the drinks industry [and] wanted to build my network in the industry and have some more role models to look up to." 

You can read more about the WID mentoring program here. 

Marisa Murray (4th from the left) and her colleagues at a the Brown-Forman Barrel House event last year.