Frucor Suntory announces equal paid parental leave policy

New policy set to change the face of parenting, says CPO

Frucor Suntory announces equal paid parental leave policy

The beverage company behind some of ANZ’s best loved drinks says it is changing the face of parenting with a new 13-week paid parental leave programme.

Frucor Suntory’s PPL benefit is now available for all new parents on top of the statutory leave entitlements.

By removing the gendered primary and secondary carer definitions from its policy, the Trans-Tasman company is doing away with traditional ideas of gender roles that are fast becoming outdated for modern parents.

HRD spoke to Frucor Suntory’s chief people officer Amy Rixon about the importance of levelling the playing field for gender expectations in the workplace.

“I do genuinely believe that equal paid parental leave is one big way to work towards equality when it comes to issues like the gender pay gap,” she said.

“When women take extended periods out of the workforce there is an unintended bias when they return.

“These things are systemically contributing to a gender pay gap and also a lack of representation, particularly for senior women.

“If you don't equalise time out of the workforce and you don't equalise how we approach flexibility for both genders, companies will naturally have a pay gap.”

According to Stats NZ, the country’s gender pay gap stood at 9.5% for the June 2020 quarter.

However, the true figure may be much higher.

Analysis by Strategic Pay, which incorporated Kiwi saver, assets such as vehicles, and bonuses, estimated New Zealand’s overall gender pay gap at 17.7%.

While NZ’s government has taken legislative action to close the gender gap, private businesses play a crucial role in driving real change.

Equal PPL is undoubtedly a financial commitment and one that is difficult to estimate, but Rixon said it brings a number of hidden benefits on top of improving D&I.

“There’s been a couple of instances over the last year where we've had male leaders who have taken leave and for those couple of months it's enabled talent to step up and take on that role,” she said.

“It's created career opportunities for people who have really been able to shine in leadership roles, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Frucor Suntory’s policy also includes paid “keep in touch” and transition back to work days, as well as a commitment to offering flexible ways of working.

Rixon said bold, inclusive initiatives also play into creating a great workplace culture which directly impacts staff retention and employee engagement.

“We just don't want to tick the box,” she said. “We want to be known as an employer that is diverse, inclusive and supportive. We do have a lovely culture at Frucor Suntory, with great values and strong team engagement.”

Read more: Measuring the ROI: How to show diversity’s value

Looking forward, D&I will continue to be a big focus for the beverage producer this year.

The company is launching its first Diversity and Inclusion Council, a group of employees who will champion initiatives to celebrate diversity and promote greater inclusivity.

The council will focus on the company’s five key D&I areas – gender, the LGBTQI community, accessibility, cultural diversity and life stages.

“The other big focus for 2021 is around how we're driving inclusive leadership behaviours,” Rixon said.

“We've got a really good leadership program here but we're really curious to include how we grow inclusive leadership behaviour such as practical tools and techniques around conducting meetings, how you think about talent and how to help our people be their best.”

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