Parenting equality. That elusive, yet exciting milestone (achievable by 2050) where we’ll all effortlessly combine work and family and be supported by our organisations to do so.
If you’re a working mum or dad struggling through the early morning daycare dropoff, stuck at home with sick kids or unable to attend a school event today because you’re expected in the office, this might seem like a long way off. But it turns out, it might not be as far away as you think. Here are 5 companies who are nailing it when it comes to parenting equality:
Parenting equality means far more than just offering mums maternity leave options. It means that mums and dads feel able, and indeed, empowered, to take parental leave, and return to their job with the appropriate level of flexibility they require - and with no impact on their career trajectory.
One company that is rocketing towards making this happen is Medibank, who were one of the first companies in Australia to introduce substantial paid leave for dads. Medibank wants to tackle head-on the stereotype that child-caring is ‘women’s work,’ so they’ve intentionally tried to remove the labels of ‘primary carer’ and ‘secondary carer,’ and instead replace it with simply ‘parent.’
This has had a huge impact on how they offer paternity leave. Any parent at Medibank is entitled to 14 weeks paid leave, and it can be taken at any time in the first two years of a child’s life.
Medibank also has targets for flexible work, as well as accountability metrics for leaders tasked with improving flexibility.
Hot on Medibank’s heels in the race towards parenting equality is Telstra. They’ve recently revamped their parental benefits in order to offer both men and women equal opportunities to stay home with their family.
Under the new policy, employees are now entitled to up to 16 weeks paid parental leave, regardless of whether they’re the primary or secondary carer.
Leave can be taken in one block, or flexibly within the first 12 months of a child’s birth. Employees can also use the allocated hours to return to work on a part-time basis.
Unfortunately, the only catch is that staff need to have worked 12 months or more for the telecoms giant before they can take their leave.
Like Telstra, Deloitte sets the standard for equal parental leave by offering new parents, regardless of gender, 18 weeks of paid leave.
But Deloitte goes one step further than Telstra as it enables parents to take their paid leave at any time during their child’s first three years of life. This means that it can be used when the baby is first born, when they’re a toddler, or to work part-time.
Of the recent enhancement to their policy, Deloitte Australia’s CEO said:
‘[Our policy] recognises that you’re not just a parent for 12 months.’
As part of a broader push for gender equality in their business, QBE also this year announced that it was eliminating the terms ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ carer, and instead offering 12 weeks of parental leave to parents within their company.
Announced on International Women’s Day via a powerful video entitled ‘Share the Care,’ the purpose of QBE’s new policy was simple: to give all employees the opportunity to stay home with their children.
Of the initiative, QBE’s Chief Human Resources Office Eleanor Debelle said:
‘We’re committed to recognising the moments that matter to our employees, and becoming a parent is a pivotal moment, no matter the gender.’
The construction industry is not one that’s traditionally led the way in terms of flexible working, but Mirvac is trying to change that - and in doing so, it’s helping lead the way in parenting equality.
While Mirvac’s secondary carer leave might not be as impressive as the rest (they currently offer 4 weeks), they’ve come leaps and bounds in terms of how many of their staff work flexibly, in an effort to make flexibility more mainstream.
Following their debut in the WGEA documentary series ‘Equilibrium Man,’which saw 5 men try to introduce flexibility at work, Mirvac has introduced an initiative called ‘My Simple Thing’ which encourages employees to start doing one thing throughout their working week that gives them more flexibility.
For example, the ‘Simple Thing’ that the company’s Head of Culture and Reputation Chris Akayan does is to take his 10 year old son to breakfast and then do the school drop off before he heads to work, every Thursday.
And as it turns out, ‘Simple Things’ do make a difference. 75% of Mirvac’s employees now work flexibly.
Why do we need parenting equality? What will it look like?
Download our free guide, Work in 2050: How everyone wins in a Parent-Equal World to learn more.