LONDON — The corporate rallying cries are multiplying: diversity, sustainability, inclusivity and, now, maternity — and paternity.
Burberry is hoping to alleviate the angst of new parenthood with an enriched, global parental leave policy and an opportunity for new mothers and fathers to work fewer hours, at full pay, in the weeks following their return from leave.
As of April 1, the start of the company’s new fiscal year, Burberry will offer all employees 18 weeks of parental leave at full pay, and the opportunity to work a 30-hour week, at full pay, for four weeks after they clock back into work.
Burberry said the new policy builds upon its existing maternity, paternity, adoption and partner leave rules and creates a “consistent approach for all employees globally” who have worked at the company for at least 12 months.
The fact that this is a global policy is key for Burberry, as countries’ maternity policies can differ vastly. The U.S. is among the few developed countries worldwide that does not offer paid maternity leave at a federal government level.
Depending on the company they are working for, American parents are often forced to cobble together holidays, personal days and short-term disability leave so they can care for their newborn children.
By contrast, in the U.K. employees can be paid for a period up to 39 weeks. According to the government’s web site, for the first six weeks, female workers receive 90 percent of their average weekly earnings before tax. For the remaining 33 weeks, they take home roughly 150 pounds, or 90 percent of their average weekly earnings, whichever figure is lower.
Erica Bourne, Burberry’s chief people officer, said creating an environment that is “truly open and inclusive” is important to the company. “We want everyone to have the best possible experience and feel supported to succeed, especially during times of change in life. We believe our new parental leave policy, which is leading in the luxury industry, will make a significant difference to many of our colleagues around the world.”
Bourne said the new policy “equalizes our approach in all markets, enabling new parents to take time with their families and phase their return to work.”
In an interview, Bourne said Burberry’s most recent moves stemmed from the leadership team’s efforts “to challenge ourselves and put the right framework in place to create the best possible experience for all of our colleagues, regardless of where they sit in the world.”
She added that Burberry plans to have further conversations with new parents “about how we can better support them as they do return to work. It’s an ongoing process. We want to make the infrastructure, our frameworks, our policies for that onboarding process as practical as we possibly can. We are trying to embed an environment that is supportive and inclusive.”
Women make up two-thirds of Burberry’s workforce globally. The company also has the highest proportion of women in its executive team and in direct report positions in the FTSE 100, according to Hampton-Alexander Review, an independent, government-supported review of businesses.
Burberry declined to disclose how much the new policy would cost. Instead, Bourne said putting the new parental policy in place was “the right thing to do; It’s really about investing in our colleagues around the world, supporting and being there for them.”
Last September, Kering said it was extending its global parental leave to all parents of a new child, not just mothers.
Starting in January, all employees at the French luxury group will be able to take 14 weeks of paid “baby leave.”
At Kering, 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.
Burberry has been working on multiple corporate responsibility fronts: Earlier this week, the British brand scooped the Luxury With a Heart prize at the annual Walpole British Luxury Awards for its work on supply chain, eco-friendly raw materials and tackling waste. It also works with a variety of charities such as Smart Works, which offers new, donated clothing and styling advice to women in need who are trying to get back into the workforce.