Spurred into action following Equal Pay Day last week, FMCG brand Lion has announced it will offer paid leave to all new parents as well as an additional six weeks’ superannuation on unpaid parental leave, taking total coverage to 18 weeks.
The decision would importantly eliminate the labels of primary and secondary carers– a distinction which continues to overwhelmingly disadvantage working women.
Lion CEO Stuart Irvine confirmed that the company had heeded the advice of The Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) in implementing this.
“The Workplace Gender Equality Agency have identified primary and secondary carer labels, which are still commonplace in most businesses, as a major driver of inequality in Australian workplaces,” he said.
“Requiring a couple to nominate a primary carer at the start of parenthood immediately sets up an unequal division of labour within the household, which in many cases produces barriers down the track to integrating mothers back into the workforce.
“Discrimination between primary and secondary carers is not helpful from the point of view of the couple or the business, and we’re proud to be one of the first major Australian companies to move beyond these labels to a model where both parents are eligible for full paid parental leave – which in Lion’s case is twelve weeks.”
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Irvine said that the policy would also support a shift in corporate cultural mentality to foster a more balanced understanding amongst male leaders of the implications of parenting on a worker’s career path, and breaking down any remaining invisible recruitment bias against women of child-bearing age.
“It’s not only a win for mothers – it eliminates a major barrier for fathers who want to be more hands on in parenting their young children,” he said.
In a trailblazing move for the sector, Lion’s second initiative aims to address the serious discrepancy in superannuation savings between men and women– with women currently retiring with 47% less superannuation than men, despite living five years longer on average.
“The problem is not simply that women are typically paid less,” said Irvine.
“Any parent – to this point typically the mother – who takes unpaid leave to care for their children also misses out on superannuation contributions for that time period, and the effect of these missing contributions compounds over the course of their career.”
“For a relatively small upfront investment we can move to address a major source of pay inequality for women in the workforce.”
Lion first identified and then closed its like-for-like gender pay gap in 2017 and has successfully kept the gap closed since.
Lion’s new leave policies will come into effect from 1 October.