PARIS — As part of a broader ambition to promote equality in the workplace, Kering is extending its global parental leave to all parents of a new child.
“Kering is making a big step forward by giving all of its employees the possibility of taking 14 weeks of paid leave for what we call baby leave,” Béatrice Lazat, Kering’s chief people officer told WWD from her office at the Kering headquarters in Paris.
“In 2017, we already took a major step for the global parental policy with our 14-week maternity leave, which included adoption leave for same sex couples — this is the second phase, which also promotes better equality between men and women,” she added. The measure takes effect in January next year.
The company, which counts a large proportion of women employees — including in the upper ranks of management — has made promoting women’s causes a priority.
Women make up 63 percent of the group’s employees, 51 percent of its managers, more than 30 percent of its executive committee and 60 percent of its board. The company has set a target of reaching a gender balance and ending the gender pay gap by 2025.
“Kering is a very engaged group, when it comes to professional equality,” noted Lazat.
“When I met [Kering chairman and chief executive officer] François-Henri Pinault for the first time — I started in 2016 — he spoke to me of professional equality for women and he said, ‘Here’s what I’ve done with the foundation, and within the group, I’d like to go further,’” recalled the former L’Oréal executive who built her career abroad in the U.K., Hong Kong, Australia and China, capping her time at the beauty giant as director of human resources director for the Asian region.
“’So when you join us, I’d like to go further — it’s really a priority,’” she remembered him telling her.
Kering’s foundation focuses on fighting violence against women, while the group’s Women in Motion program promotes women in the arts world, including cinema and photography.
“Step by step, we came to a global policy for all our employees with worldwide coverage,” added Lazat.
The new measure serves to support employees on several levels, she explained.
“First to help at the time of the birth or arrival of a child — a key moment in one’s life — both personal and professional — to directly help new parents — women, men, whatever their personal circumstances — to have time to bond with their child,” she explained.
“Indirectly, that can also help a woman whose partner, husband or companion works at Kering, because he or she will also be there for the child,” she added.
While some companies in Silicon Valley are known to have similar, extended paternal leave policies, the practice is less common on a global level as well as in the luxury industry — making Kering a pioneer in its sector, according to executives at the group.
“With a bit of modesty, we can say that perhaps we could serve as a precursor as more companies begin heading in this direction — I believe that this movement contributes to more professional equality, as well as the personal growth and well-being of everyone in the company because, at these key moments, we can see that the company is concretely there,” she added.
“I have read some studies that show often, in the case of heterosexual couples, that for women…there tends to be a redistribution of roles that pushes them towards a more traditional role. Since the woman has time [away from the office], she returns to work in her role as a mother and takes a few steps back, at times, career-wise — looking after the child and then suddenly, also tending to tasks at home while her partner continues to advance in his career,” she said, noting that the new policy will ensure that both parents are equally committed to their families and return to work in the best conditions.
“We did an analysis of costs, we had a look and we are lucky to be in a group that can say, yes, this is an investment that we are going to do,” she added.
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