The decision represents a major step forward in creating an equitable work-life balance for employees within the telecommunications industry. 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 new policy will take effect from January 1, 2016. Approximately 36% of Telenor’s global workforce of 33,000 people is 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. With the goal of ensuring that our organization better reflects the world we live in, and in order to attract, retain, and develop female leadership talent, we are instituting a minimum six-month paid maternity leave as standard for our employees everywhere we operate. 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 President and CEO of Telenor Group, Sigve 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. 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 concluded.