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Vodafone Makes A Bold Move In Maternity Leave: Will Others Follow?

The company will pay new mothers their full salaries for working reduced hours; will this change how other companies think about leave?

Vodafone Makes A Bold Move In Maternity Leave: Will Others Follow?
[Photo: Flickr user peasap]

Vodafone announced today that it will start offering 16 weeks fully paid maternity leave by the end of the year, and full pay for 30-hour weeks for the first six months after they return to work.

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The company employs 100,000 people in 30 operating companies around the world, including Asia, Africa, Europe, and the United States. Until now, they’ve followed the local letter when it comes to maternity leave. Some countries don’t mandate paid maternity leave, and many–including the U.S.–don’t come close to the new four-month minimum of paid time off.

According to the Wall Street Journal, most of the company’s new moms were quitting in their first year back at work. Vodafone HR executive Sharon Doherty, who developed the policy, told the WSJ that recruiting and retaining more women has been a priority. “We’ve been asking, what are the cultural, policy and leadership issues to make Vodafone more female-friendly?” she said. Women make up 35% of their global workforce, and only 21% of leadership positions.

It’s also just smart business sense: a protection of an investment, when businesses lose $47 billion after a new mom leaves a company due to poor maternity support. Even with paid leave for their 1,000 female employees, Vodafone anticipates a potential net annual savings of $19 billion as these women stay with the company post-baby.

“Women account for 35% of our employees worldwide but only 21% of our international senior leadership team,” chief executive of Vodafone Vittorio Colao said, according to the Telegraph. “We believe our new maternity policy will play an important role in helping to bridge that gap. Supporting working mothers at all levels of our organization will ultimately result in better decisions, a better culture and a deeper understanding of our customers’ needs.”

Vodafone’s bold support of working moms means more opportunities for women to climb higher in a company and continue on their chosen career path, while raising a family at the same time.

About the author

Freelance tech, science and culture writer. Find Sam on the Internet: @samleecole.

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