It’s not uncommon for smaller companies to act democratically when making key operational decisions. But at woman-led Stella Rising—a Connecticut-based media agency and consultancy founded in 1982 where women outnumber men more than 2-to-1—employees’ voices carry a unique weight, especially since the onset of the pandemic.
Exhibit A: Stella Rising’s work-from-home policy, which sees the bulk of its staff working remotely with an optional hybrid schedule in its Westport, Connecticut, and Manhattan offices. Prior to the pandemic, Stella had already adopted work-from-home Fridays, which gave it a leg up in March 2020 when most advertising businesses went remote almost overnight.
The agency’s leaders consistently survey employees, often referred to as “Stellas,” to see if and how their preferences change in regard to remote work. “Those responses are honored and truly dictate the work-from-home policy,” said Elizabeth McHugh, the company’s director of content marketing who has been with Stella nearly three years.
That consideration is indicative of the agency’s people-first attitude that emphasizes the well-being of employees, all of whom are given a paid subscription to on-demand mental health platform Journey and allowances for activities including massage therapy and meal kits—as well as more traditional workplace perks such as paid family leave and reimbursement for education-related costs.
“The focus on employee happiness is what I believe is driving our business success—we work hard to understand what employees love to do, invest in their growth, and establish intentional ways to marry the two together,” said Kate Dillon, Stella’s chief people officer who has been with the organization since 2006. “We will continue to listen to our team and based on their feedback, react with their best interests in mind.”