Effective 1 July 2019, Diageo is rolling out a minimum global standard of 26 weeks of fully paid maternity leave, and four weeks of paternity leave on full rate of pay in all its markets.

In Singapore, where its APAC headquarters are located, fathers will see 26 weeks of fully-paid paternity leave. This enhanced paternity leave is also applicable to certain other markets such as the UK, Thailand, Philippines, Australia, and Russia, amongst others.

Previously, the company had no common policy, since they varied from market to market, so this move is significant in standardising that approach.

A global producer of beverage alcohol with brands such as Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff and Baileys, Diageo hopes the new standard will help employees to focus on the joy of raising a young family, while continuing to thrive at work, and ensure they are supported to have time with their new baby.

Mairéad Nayager, Diageo’s Chief HR Officer, said: "Global businesses like Diageo must make bold moves on policies and the environments in which their employees work to ensure that the progress people deserve happens."

The new policy will go live in most countries at the start of Diageo’s new financial year, with further countries to implement the policy over the course of the year. In the Asia Pacific business, the enhanced policies are expected to benefit close to 9,000 employees across the region.

The full details of each country-specific policy, application to non-wholly owned subsidiaries, and the timing of its roll-out is yet to be shared.

Aarif Aziz, Chief HR Officer at Diageo India, also weighed in: "Our aim is to make Diageo a great place to work in India, one that is inclusive and progressive. We know that flexibility at work is proven to create happier, more loyal and more productive workforces."

In an exclusive, Human Resources spoke to Sam Fischer, President Greater China and Asia-Pacific, to understand more about the policy and it's rollout. Excerpts below:

Q What is the direction/vision that this policy change hopes to achieve?

The ambitious move is part of Diageo’s leading work to create a fully inclusive and diverse workforce, where barriers to career progression are removed and talent is retained and nurtured.

Our focus is, and always has been, on being a leading employer for gender equality in the workplace. From our research of publicly available information, we believe that Diageo is the first FTSE 10 company to roll out a global policy of this nature.

Q Presently, the 26 weeks of fully-paid leave for both mothers and fathers is applicable in the UK. Will you look to roll thus out in the rest of the world as well at some point?

We have been delighted with the overwhelmingly positive response we have had from employees to our UK policy. Although this announcement follows on from this, the policy roll out is part of our leading work to create a fully inclusive and diverse workforce. Our future ambition is for all countries to adopt an equal maternity and paternity leave.

Q What are some of Diageo's other D&I initiatives in the APAC region?

In Asia we have consciously and deliberately made diversity and inclusion a business priority and all of our markets have built-in diversity and inclusion plans within their talent and organisation strategies.

We treat diversity goals with the same intensity as our financial goals – we have regular reviews at a senior-level and we have given ourselves stretching targets to deliver. While it absolutely comes from the top you cannot only build it from the top down. It needs to come from everywhere.

Here in Singapore 60% of employees are female with 44% in leadership positions. On top of that 56% of graduates in Singapore are female. D&I efforts matter to our people – we want our employees to be proud to work at a company with inclusion at its heart.

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 talent out there.

Photo / 123RF