When thinking about companies that go out of their way to promote family-friendly working practices, you probably think of Diageo, Aviva, Zurich or maybe Volvo. All have been supremely successful in promoting their parental leave policies and, in most cases, equalising them. In a further sign that big business is getting the message about work / life balance, Nestlé has also updated its parental support policy. I’ve been given the opportunity to learn all about it.
The food and beverage giant has taken significant steps to improve equalise it’s approach to parental leave, parental pay and, crucially, welcoming people back to work after a spell of leave. It’s not uncommon for companies to make big claims about their parental leave, only for dads to end up as second class citizens. Here are the main actions Nestlé takes to ensure mums and dads are treated fairly.
Stripped gender out of the language
The company has taken a gender-neutral approach to its policy. There is no longer maternity or paternity leave but primary and secondary carer leave.
The primary caregiver is the parent who will spend most of their time with the child. The primary caregiver is entitled to 52 weeks leave, 18 of which are paid by Nestlé. The secondary caregiver is entitled to 12 weeks leave, four of them paid.
In a bid to break down gender barriers, Nestlé encourage men to think long and hard about whether they wish to be the primary or secondary caregiver. This is to ensure they don’t simply default to being the ‘secondary’ caregiver. For this may not be in the family’s best interests.
The leave also applies to adoptive parents. It’s important to stress that using such language, Nestlé is recognising the existence of same sex couples. For same sex couples, the leave applies in exactly the same way as it is to heterosexual couples.
Keeping in touch days
Nestlé has put a lot of importance on helping mums and dads transition back into the workplace. Primary caregivers have 10 Keeping In Touch days. This ensures they are not excluded from developments and are kept in the loop.
Introduction of the Parent Talk network
The Parent Talk network, for me, is the highlight of what Nestlé is doing. It’s a superb development for dads who often struggle to find parental support and assistance. This is a network of staff, that enables mothers and fathers to discuss all things parent related.
Nestlé also offer new dads (and mums!) the opportunity to have a Parent Pal through their mentoring programme. A Parent Pal is a mentor who supports and mentors a new parent as they make the transition to becoming a working parent. It complements the Keeping in Touch days as it’s a further way to keep up to date with what is going on at work.
Male participation in the Parent Talk network has apparently been very strong. If such a thing had existed when I worked in Corporate land I am sure I would have made the most of it.
Nestlé contact parents on their return and remind them about the Parent Pal mentoring and the Parent Talk network. This is to make sure they are fully aware of the support and mentoring available.
I will quickly mention the flexible working policy. They are independent of the main parental policies and is still being finalised. Nonetheless, Nestlé is open to job shares and other forms of flexible working, something that parents and caregivers often require.
An end-to-end journey for parental support at Nestlé
Those are the main points of the parental policy. The idea was to have an end-to-end journey that kicks in when a parent is expecting a child. It continues during any parental leave they take. Then serves to help them back into the workforce when leave has ended and via the ParentPal network, help them as their parenting adventure progresses.
It’s clear that Nestlé has created a parental support policy that is inclusive of traditional and non-traditional families. It’s good to see the secondary carer leave paid in full for a month. Money is a major barrier to men taking anything more than the bare minimum leave entitlement.
I also see huge value in the Parent Talk network. It not only helps parents overcome social isolation, but provides support and mentorship. It’s a great initiative that I can see appealing to mums and dads.
Nestlé is clearly taking steps to appeal to employees with families. If you were thinking of moving jobs but need to balance work and family life or think you will in the near future, you should see what roles Nestlé has to offer.