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Bishop's Stortford employer Diageo leads the way in equal parental benefits

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James Ashall (8233102)
James Ashall (8233102)

A global alcoholic drinks business with a research and development centre in Bishop’s Stortford is leading the way with parental benefits for employees.

The 40 or so staff at Diageo’s laboratory at Woodside, off Dunmow Road, will be eligible for the same fully-paid 26 weeks' leave, retaining benefits and bonuses regardless of gender, sexual orientation or whether they become parents biologically, via surrogacy or adoption.

The FTSE 100 business – whose brands include Smirnoff, the world's best-selling vodka, Tanqueray gin, Guinness, Johnnie Walker whisky and Baileys, the world's best-selling liqueur – has extended the benefit to all 4,500 of its employees in the UK, including about 3,100 in Scotland who are primarily in manufacturing roles.

Its Stortford operation is made up of liquid and sensory scientists developing new products for the company. It is one of four research and development centres around the world, along with sites in North America, Singapore and India.

Mairéad Nayager, chief human resources officer at Diageo, said: “True gender equality in the working world requires fundamental changes to a broad range of working practices, including a shake-up of the policies and cultural norms around parental leave.

"Today’s announcement is about matching ambition with action and supporting all of our colleagues – regardless of gender – to experience the joy of raising a young family while continuing to thrive at work.”

Women and equalities minister Penny Mordaunt said: “I’m delighted to see Diageo making this move. Shared parental leave gives both mums and dads the chance to spend quality time with their child in the important first months of their life, creating a bond that will last a lifetime.

“Employers can reap the benefits too. We know that flexibility in work is proven to create happier, more loyal and more productive workforces.

“Action like this is exactly what we are encouraging as part of our forthcoming strategy which will aim to empower every woman in the UK to achieve their true potential.”

The new policy also strengthens the support for parents as they return to work, including the option of 'keeping in touch' days, parental coaching, flexible working policies and access to free independent counselling.

In 2018, Diageo was named by Thomson Reuters as the fourth most inclusive and diverse company in the world and was ranked by Equileap as the best company in the UK for gender equality. This year it has been recognised by the Bloomberg Gender Equality Index.

Emma Hopkins (8233097)
Emma Hopkins (8233097)

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