You wouldn't expect one of the world's leading baby formula manufacturers to say it's instituting a generous worldwide maternity leave policy because it wants to encourage new mothers to breastfeed. But that's just what Nestlé is doing.
The company recently announced a progressive maternity leave policy for female employees that includes: 14 weeks paid leave and the right to extend that leave up to six months, a guaranteed job back, access to breastfeeding rooms during working hours, and flexible work arrangements. Pretty good, right? But it's CEO Paul Bulcke's reasoning for approving the leave policy that will have you jumping for joy.
Speaking to Fortune correspondent Susie Gharib, Bulcke's said, "We are a company that really supports breastfeeding as a good start. We should allow mothers who are our employees to live up to that."
What? Wait a second here, doesn't Nestle make one of the most popular baby formulas in the world — Nestlé Good Start? And weren't they the subject of a boycott campaign for promoting formula to new moms? Yes, it's the same company. But now even before you can see the products on their website, the company has a pop-up that reads, "Health Canada and the World Health Organization recommend exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months and recommend continued breastfeeding, after the introduction of complementary food, for up to two years and beyond. Please consult your healthcare professional before introducing infant formula or complementary food."
It's a huge step in the right direction and one that Nestlé stands by. "We don't do this because we want to show off and lead," Bulcke said. "We do this because we value our people; we value what we stand for."
Nestlé isn't the only company introducing strong maternity leave policies in the coming year. Earlier this year Virgin announced one year paid leave for new parents in the United Kingdom and Geneva, and Johnson and Johnson recently announced that all new parents at the company will receive eight weeks paid leave. It's a trend that we can certainly get behind — and one that parents everywhere should be advocating for more loudly than ever as the tide continues to grow!