Telenor adopts minimum 6-month paid maternity leave policy globally

Norwegian telecom major Telenor Group has adopted a six-month paid maternity leave policy as a minimum standard globally across its 13 markets, in a move that would particularly benefit Asian markets.

The decision represents a major step forward in creating an equitable work-life balance for employees within the telecommunications industry. This is in line with the corporate vision of encouraging diversity and developing more female leadership in business and society, Telenor said in a release.
The current practices in Europe, which are on par or above the newly-proposed initiative, will continue, the company said.

In Telenor's Asia operations, with the exception of Bangladesh, female employees are currently entitled to less than six months of funded maternity leave per local regulations and personnel practices. As a result, women may decide to leave the workforce to have children, and as internal Telenor surveys reveal, some may not return, resulting in lost leadership opportunities and cost from staff turnover, the company stated.

The new policy will take effect from 1 January 2016. Approximately 36 per cent of Telenor's global workforce of 33,000 people comprises women.

"This is about strengthening Telenor's competitiveness in the markets where we operate. In order to do that, we rely on attracting the best talent from diverse backgrounds. We know that a diverse workforce drives innovation and better performance," said president and CEO of Telenor Group, Sigve Brekke.

''This will represent a significant difference in markets such as Thailand and India, where local regulations require only three months of maternity leave. We consider it a highly strategic move, both from a societal and a business perspective," said Brekke.

The recent McKinsey and Co research paper Diversity Matters (2014) suggests that diversity in the workplace provides multiple business advantages in talent recruitment, greater customer orientation, increased employee satisfaction, better decision making, enhanced innovation, and improved financial performance.

As per the study's findings, companies in the top quartile of diversity are more likely to have financial returns above their national industry medians.

"We are confident that that the costs of an improved maternity leave policy are outweighed by the savings of reduced staff turnover and the increased competitiveness we anticipate from a more diverse and equitable workplace, Brekke added.