Mary Finch, Head of People for the Americas at Iris, Wins Stevie® Award for Her Progressive and Inclusive Parental Leave Policy

Finch recognized as Social Change Maker of the Year after policy brought in to ensure all parents, including adoptive and LGBTQ+ parents, benefit from extended leave policy double the national standard

NEW YORK (November 14, 2023)—Global creative agency Iris and their Head of People, Americas, Mary Finch, have earned a Silver Stevie® Award in the Social Change Maker of the Year Gender category as part of the 20th annual Stevie Awards for Women in Business. This recognition is the result of Finch’s exceptional leadership in implementing a groundbreaking extended parental leave. 

The annual awards series honors the achievements of women executives, entrepreneurs, employees, and the companies they run globally, and is hailed as one of the world’s premier business awards. More than 1,600 entries were submitted this year for consideration in more than 100 categories, including Executive of the Year, Entrepreneur of the Year, Company of the Year, Startup of the Year, Women Helping Women, and Women Run Workplace of the Year.

“At Iris, we strive to move the industry forward, not just in our work but through our company culture as well,” Finch said. “Supporting parents as they embark on new chapters with little ones and children of all ages is something that I feel particularly strongly about as a new mother myself. This policy sets a precedent in the industry for what agencies can be doing to support their people and I hope others follow suit and adopt similar policies.”

Finch has dedicated her career to championing initiatives that move organizations forward by emphasizing equality for all—regardless of gender, identity and orientation—creating innovative employee engagement initiatives aimed at improving workforce retention and employee satisfaction. As Head of People, Americas, she plays a crucial role in shaping the company's overall culture, ensuring that employees feel valued, seen and heard.

Recognizing the importance of supporting employees during the critical and admittedly stressful time of becoming parents, Finch successfully expanded the agency’s leave policy to include an impressive 26 weeks of parental leave—more than double the national standard and encompassing maternity leave, paternity leave and other forms that respect gender identity and the fact that no two families look “exactly” the same. This extended leave policy demonstrates both her and Iris’ commitment to each of their employees, ensuring that they have ample time to bond with their newest additions and also take care of their family’s total needs.

The policy also specifically addresses the needs of primary caregivers by providing them with a salary continuation at full pay for 16 weeks during their parental leave. Secondary Caregivers are entitled to salary continuation at full pay for four weeks and the benefit package does not stop there. New parents have access to their previously accrued vacation, sick leave and personal time. This provision offers an additional, valuable safety net for employees, reducing financial burdens and allowing them to take the time they need without undue stress.

“Under Mary's leadership, Iris has implemented a remarkable parental leave policy that surpasses the national average by a significant margin—and creates gender parity as well,” said Jill Smith, Global CMO, Iris. “Our comprehensive policy was designed with inclusivity in mind, extending to all parents, regardless of their gender or parental role, in recognition of the diverse needs of our workforce. The approach she designed ensures that all parents, including adoptive and LGBTQ+ parents, benefit from this extended leave.”

The Stevie Awards have been honoring excellence in business for over 20 years, receiving thousands of entries from around the globe such that the series has become one of the most competitive in the industry. Nicknamed the Stevies for the Greek word for “crowned,” the awards were presented to winners last Friday evening during a gala event attended by nominees and their guests at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City. Gold, Silver, and Bronze Stevie Award winners were determined by the average scores of more than 200 business professionals around the world across six juries. The full list of winners across categories can be found at