Diageo, Bloomberg and WPP ANZ on creating industry-leading parental leave policies

WPP ANZ, Bloomberg and Diageo on parental leave

The topic of parental leave is hotly debated around the world, and as businesses like Spotify and Netflix lure in talent with flexible parental and holiday leave, more traditional businesses are having to rethink and adapt.

Three global behemoths of the business world recently made significant changes to their parental leave policies; WPP in AUNZ simplified and extended its leave across its agencies, while both Diageo and Bloomberg looked to set industry precedents by extending their leave globally.

What’s the policy?

Diageo - Sam Fischer, president of Greater China and Asia Pacific

“We have begun a roll-out of a new family leave policy applicable to employees across our business, as part of our work to create a fully inclusive and diverse workforce. The policy will entitle our employees in any country to 26 weeks of maternity leave, at the full rate of pay."

"On top of that, and in many markets including several in Asia-Pacific such as Australia, Thailand, the Philippines, China and here in Singapore our employees will also be entitled to 26 weeks of paternity leave, again on a full rate of pay. In all markets, we have set a global minimum of 4 weeks paternity with full pay.”

WPP AUNZ - Elissa Good-Omozusi, chief HR and talent officer

Prior to 1 January 2019, the range of parental leave benefits across WPP AUNZ and its agencies ranged from providing no paid benefit, to 16 weeks paid leave after five years of service.

"It became apparent that we needed to introduce a standard policy, to ensure that our people could access an appropriate amount of paid leave no matter which part of the company, or which agency within the group that they worked for. To develop this kind of policy, WPP AUNZ researched a number of parental leave policies from not only our own industry, but across several other industries, plus gathered feedback from our businesses."

"As a result, we created a company-wide, industry-leading, and inclusive Parental Leave Policy that offers both paid primary and secondary carer’s leave. This sees employees paid up to 16 weeks full salary depending on the length of tenure. After just one year of service, employees are offered 12 weeks’ full pay. Secondary carers will be provided four weeks leave on full pay after two years of service, and two weeks after just one year."

"A crucial element of the policy is that it is gender-neutral to create options for families — fathers can take time off work as the primary carer and mothers can return to work if they choose. (A ‘primary carer’ is the parent/guardian of a child, including same-sex couples, or a single person, who has the primary responsibility for providing care to a child for the majority of the working week ie Monday to Friday. A ‘secondary carer’ is the parent/guardian of a child, including same-sex couples, or a single person, who does not have primary responsibility for providing care to a child for the majority of the working week, but who operates in a supporting role and has some responsibility for the child’s care.)”

Bloomberg - spokesperson

“Bloomberg expanded its global primary caregiver leave standard from 18 weeks of fully paid leave to 26 weeks effective from 15 May 2019. The 26 weeks comprise 24 weeks of fully paid parental leave plus 10 transition days (one day off per week for 10 consecutive weeks) immediately following an employee's return to work."

"The policy serves as a new global minimum standard following the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child. Secondary caregivers will continue to receive four weeks of fully-paid leave.”

Why it’s good for business

All three businesses state that having progressive parental leave policies helps to drive a more diverse workforce, but the impact a diverse workforce has on business results is also a key driver.

Diageo - Sam Fischer, president of Greater China and Asia Pacific

“Family Leave Policies are not only key drivers of our inclusion and diversity ambition at Diageo but are also significant contributors to our values. They help drive attraction, aid retention, and more importantly have a positive impact on employee engagement and wellbeing; minimising some of the stress that can be inherent in significant lifestyle changes.

"Prioritizing inclusion and diversity is not only the right thing to do, but it is good for business - from delivering great commercial outcomes to defining Diageo as an 'employer of choice'.”

WPP AUNZ - Elissa Good-Omozusi, chief HR and talent officer

“A growing body of research shows that offering paid parental leave isn’t just the right thing to do - it’s good for business. Paid leave programmes increase worker retention and reduce turnover, which helps avoid the cost of having to hire and train employees to replace those who leave to care for new children.

"Male Millennials are also more likely to join a company offering paid parental leave."

"Paid parental leave has become a valuable differentiator - a study by Deloitte in 2016 found that 77% of workers with access to benefits reported that the amount of paid parental leave had some influence on their choice of one employer over another."

"At WPP AUNZ, we believe that to have a truly diverse workplace, we need to have people from a variety of backgrounds, and life stages. We also need to ensure that our people have every opportunity to balance work, family, and other responsibilities. It was also important to implement this change as part of our ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion.”

Bloomberg - spokesperson

“The policy change was made to further our commitment to making Bloomberg a great place to work. We recognise that every family is different, so our policies should reflect the need of each and every colleague across the world and regardless of gender.”

The link to talent

With the fight for talent becoming more competitive, having industry-leading policies could be what makes the difference between getting the best talent or not. It is also a key driver for attracting talent from more diverse backgrounds.

Diageo - Sam Fischer, president of Greater China and Asia Pacific

“Our people value the opportunity to bond with their children and we know that parental leave helps to alleviate unnecessary stress and can provide stability during periods of significant personal change. Our aim is to support our people by providing time off along with financial and emotional support."

"This move also supports gender equality, allowing more parents to access the same benefits, and challenging gender norms. We’re doing this because not only is it the right thing to do for our people, we firmly believe it will also give us a competitive advantage and help us to attract and retain the best people now and in the future.”

WPP AUNZ - Elissa Good-Omozusi, chief HR and talent officer

“When securing talent, favourable parental leave policies can be a key differentiator. With the introduction of our new policy, we believe we are now an even more attractive employment option to a demographic that has historically wanted to leave the industry to seek a more family-friendly work environment. The policy, in conjunction with our multiple flexible working arrangements, will help us retain and attract this talent to our industry."

"From a retention perspective, those who are planning a family can now feel secure in staying with WPP AUNZ knowing we are long-term career option that is supportive through all different phases of life."

"It also supports those employees moving across the group to different agencies, who can now be assured they will have the same benefits regardless of the business they are working within."

"By offering a paid parental leave programme, we can send a clear message to the prospective and existing talent that we care about the health, wellbeing and quality of life of the people and families that power our business. Companies with supportive family policies and practices have been found to report lower levels of employee sick leave and improved employee morale, whilst having a positive impact on staff retention and engagement.”

Bloomberg - spokesperson

“The enhanced standard will help Bloomberg to attract and retain critical talent as it underlines our commitment to all employees starting families ensuring they have an appropriate amount of time to care for their new family member(s). “

What more can the industry do?

While it is all well and good for these businesses to take the lead, whether other businesses in the industry will follow is another matter.

Diageo - Sam Fischer, president of Greater China and Asia Pacific

“Our focus is on Diageo being a leading employer for gender equality in the workplace. We do however recognize that cultural change and normalizing maternity and paternity leave is important and we would be delighted to think our approach will contribute towards driving cultural change on this issue."

"Our future ambition is for all countries to adopt an equal maternity and paternity leave – so we will strive to have one global policy on paternity as well as maternity leave but we must also ensure that it adheres to local legislation.”

WPP AUNZ - Elissa Good-Omozusi, chief HR and talent officer

“In 2015, the OECD reported Australia as having the second worst paid parental leave scheme in the world, behind everyone except the US. Typically, other countries offer much longer periods of paid leave at higher rates."

"Banking, consultancy, and technology firms are leading the way with generous, gender-neutral paid leave."

"Adland has been playing catch up – we are proud that this policy is a significant step in what is a process of becoming more diverse and inclusive. Not only for us as a company, but also for the industry more broadly."

"We need to get better at accommodating how our people can work flexibly in their role on their return from parental leave. This means more than working part-time, working from home or working reduced hours. Fundamentally, it’s about focusing on whether the job gets done, rather than how, where or when it gets done."

"At WPP AUNZ, we view it as an ongoing process that will not just take one step, but many.”

Bloomberg - Spokesperson

“We can't comment on industry-specific practices but this enhanced standard policy ensures that we are now market leading or highly competitive in several of our key global offices."

"It is increasingly important for employers to have a range of benefit programs that can support employees through a range of different life events to reinforce their commitment to employees work-life balance and overall well-being. Whilst typical market practices do differ between locations, in addition to parental leave, programs such as back up/emergency child care services, elderly care information/support and nursery placement services can all help to reinforce an employers commitment in this area."

"Bloomberg is committed to providing and reviewing a range of programs in addition to market leading primary caregiver leave to help its employees manage their family responsibilities.”

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