Yesterday was International Women’s Day, and many brands, corporations, and companies were vocal about celebrating and honoring the occasion. But how many of those businesses actually took action to prove their commitment to improving equality and opportunity for the women they claim to value?
International telecommunication company Vodafone did just that.
In a perfectly-timed announcement last Friday, the company said it plans to introduce a mandatory minimum global maternity policy, which, by the end of 2015, would ensure that women working at all levels across Vodafone’s 30 international operating companies will be offered at least 16 weeks fully paid maternity leave, as well as full pay for a 30-hour week for the first six months after their return to work.
This means that not only will new moms be given an appropriate amount of time off while maintaining job security and collecting usual paychecks, but, for the first six months of working motherhood, they will be able to log reduced hours without suffering a loss in pay. In a world in which even the most generous maternity policies often mean “flexible” return-to-work plans that need to be negotiated on an individual basis and only offer part-time hours for part-time pay, this is a rather revolutionary move for a global corporation.
In fact, Anne Weisberg, senior vice president at the nonprofit Families and Work Institute, called it “the first of its kind.”
Chuck Pol, president of Vodafone Americas, said this of the plan:
“We think it’s unique in its nature…It gives us an advantage when we’re working with female employees, not only in our business today but as we recruit people.”
So here’s to a PR move that has serious substance rather than just soundbites, and here’s hoping this policy proves influential to the businesses and companies looking on.
Take it from Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez:
We are at our best when we cheer each other on and build each other up. Happy International Women’s Day. pic.twitter.com/C5FRxulqAB
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) March 9, 2015