It looks like Aviva’s equal parental leave policy – which was developed as part of the strategy to remove barriers to career progression and create a diverse and inclusive working culture – is doing what it was set out to accomplish.
A year since the policy’s roll-out, Aviva is reporting encouraging numbers not only group-wide but particularly on its home turf. The major insurer said over 700 parents, including around 300 men, have made use of the scheme across all international markets from November 19, 2017 to September 30, 2018; in the UK, the number is about 500 colleagues, including more than 220 men.
“The average number of paternity days taken by men at Aviva UK has increased by more than 14 times since the policy was introduced,” noted the firm. “This supports the notion that fathers are keen to take time out from their careers to spend time with their families, if barriers are removed.”
It added that since November 2017, nearly every new dad (95%) it employs in the UK has opted to take more than the statutory two weeks of paid paternity leave. In fact, 67% went on to take six months off work.
Under the policy, all UK employees, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, are able to take 12 months of leave when a new child – either via birth, adoption, or surrogacy – arrives, including 26 weeks at full basic pay.
“When we introduced this policy, we wanted all of our parents to know they can take leave and still have a successful career, regardless of gender,” said interim chief people officer Caroline Prendergast. “The feedback from our returning parents has been fantastic. Many dads have said it’s helped them to understand what women have experienced for generations, so this fresh perspective is invaluable.
“If we are going a create diverse, inclusive workplace where everyone can thrive, we must avoid viewing people as just one thing – a woman, a carer, an older worker – and instead see the value they can add.”
The scheme is available to full-time and part-time employees across all levels of the company. If both parents are employed by Aviva, they each have their own entitlement which they can take at the same time.
“By better understanding one another as employees, we can better understand our customers, so there are benefits all round,” added Prendergast. “We want to create an environment where everyone is recognised solely for their talent. Our equal parental leave policy is just one example of what we’re doing to achieve this.”