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Diageo gives UK staff fully paid 26-week equal parental leave

Lianna Brinded
Head of Yahoo Finance UK
A person walks past Diageo-owned whiskies on the whisky wall at their headquarters in Edinburgh. Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images

Diageo (DGE.L), the world’s largest producer of spirits and a key producer of beer, revealed that it will fully pay for the first 26 weeks of parental leave for men and women who work in Britain.

All 4,500 employees at Diageo UK can gain 52 weeks of equal parental leave with the first 26 weeks fully paid for, while retaining benefits and bonuses, the group said in a statement. The policy applies to every employee, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. It also covers employees who become parents biologically, via surrogacy, or from adoption.

“True gender equality in the working world requires fundamental changes to a broad range of working practices, including a shake-up of the policies and cultural norms around parental leave,” Mairéad Nayager, chief HR officer at Diageo, said.

“Today’s announcement is about matching ambition with action and supporting all of our colleagues –— regardless of gender — to experience the joy of raising a young family, while continuing to thrive at work.”

Diageo joins a number of other companies that have installed equal parental leave policies. Last year, one of the world’s largest insurers, Aviva (AV.L), said that more than 700 employees have made use of its equal parental leave scheme internationally, including around 300 men.

New fathers at Aviva UK took an average of 21 weeks’ paternity leave since the policy was introduced, compared to two weeks in the previous year — which is statutory parental leave for men in the UK.

Working fathers are just as likely as working mothers to say they preferred to be at home with their kids, but could not because they had to earn money instead, according to Pew research from 2013.

“Shared parental leave gives both mums and dads the chance to spend quality time with their child in the important first months of their life, creating a bond that will last a lifetime,” Penny Mordaunt, minister for women and equalities, said in a statement following Diageo’s annoucement.

“Employers can reap the benefits too. We know that flexibility in work is proven to create happier, more loyal, and more productive workforces. Action like this is exactly what we are encouraging as part of our forthcoming strategy which will aim to empower every woman in the UK to achieve their true potential.”

Don’t forget to check out Yahoo Finance UK’s new premium video series, “Global Change Agents with Lianna Brinded,” where we interview some of the world’s most influential women who are radically transforming the industries they are in. Syl Saller, chief marketing officer of Diageo, will join Yahoo in an upcoming episode.