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How Danone SEA launched a workplace-friendly parental policy

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See how the extended support from Danone's global parental policy benefits new parents in their first 1,000 days, as told by Normalis Mohd Sharif, HR Director, South East Asia and Marlini Ab Rashid, Sr. Transformation Manager.

People are Danone's greatest assets. Like all great companies, we not only want to attract the best talent who reflect the diversity of our businesses and communities, we also want to keep our Danoners happy because their wellbeing is important to us.

A family-friendly workplace is one whose policies make it possible for employees to achieve better work-life balance and fulfil both family and work obligations. At Danone, we want to create the best conditions to enable our employees to fulfil their desires both as parents and as successful employees. We want to create a culture where no employee is afraid to announce a pregnancy or adoption and where we respect each employee’s personal choices.

Danone's former Chief Manifesto Catalyst, Lorna Davis, once said: "Starting a family brings many joys and challenges to those wanting to build successful careers. However, one should not need to come at the expense of the other. Our parental policy aims to give everyone the opportunity to achieve their personal, family and professional ambitions, irrespective of gender."

We understand the importance of parents' ability to bond with their new addition in the first critical years of life.

Good parental policies not only promote healthier and happier children, greater gender equality and sustainable growth, they also lead to better employee engagement, productivity and the ability to attract and retain the best talent.

Danone's Global Parental Policy

Globally, our goal is to lead the way in improving working conditions for new parents and become one of the most parent-friendly companies to support inclusive diversity. In achieving this goal, a flagship element called the Global Parental Policy was launched in 2018 and has been rolled out gradually, with the aim of being fully operational by 2020. This policy pledges to assist new parents through their first 1,000 days journey where each Danoner will benefit from the extended support when becoming a parent.

In Southeast Asia, this policy has been implemented in Danone companies in Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore. At Danone Dumex Malaysia and Dumex Thailand, the Danone Global Parental Policy was launched on 1 January 2019, while in Singapore it was launched in 2018. The key features of this policy are:

Pre-natal supportThis preserves the health of pregnant mothers and their babies through:

  • Adapted working conditions
  • Allocated time-off to attend pre-natal medical examinations
  • Provision of nutritional advice
Extended parental leaveWe provide all our parents with full paid time off to bond as a family and to adjust to their new life and responsibilities, as follows:
  • 4.5 months of fully paid leave for mothers
  • 10 days of fully paid leave for fathers (with flexibility on when they want to take it)
The same benefit is also extended to adoptive parents for babies below six months.

Post-natal supportThis ensures the health and wellbeing of the baby and working parents through:

  • Job protection policies
  • Back-to-work programs
  • Flexible working schedules.
We also support exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months of a baby’s life and continued breastfeeding by providing lactation rooms in our commercial office and factory. The support for breastfeeding also includes provision for breastfeeding consultation

The benefits of family-friendly policies

We recognise the first years of life is a critical period for children. We also recognise that young children are raised in families where both parents work and may have less time and energy to invest in their offspring.
Parental leave is therefore an important accommodation, designed to increase the ability of families to balance the needs of the workplace and home.
We have also interviewed some employees that have benefited from this policy since its launch, and these are their thoughts about the newly launched parental policy.

Kel Vin, Category Development Manager, Danone Dumex Malaysia, said: "The additional parental leave enables me to provide more support to my spouse which I deem a very important phase as we transition from hospital back to home and then the confinement process. The fact that the company is also flexible on when the paternity leave can be utilised, allows me to use the leave in a staggered manner so that I can align this with my child's immunisation check-up. It is great to know that we are recognising the father’s role in parenting!"

Azuin, Digital Manager, Danone Dumex Malaysia, said: "I am thankful and feel really good that the company actually cares about giving me sufficient rest and more time to spend with my little one. This also gives me the opportunity to be mentally prepared before starting work again after 4.5 months. Danone as a supportive company also provides comfortable lactation room in the office to support breastfeeding moms like me."

Khwankaew Dhanasettakorn, SEA Product Development Team Manager Global Brand, Danone Dumex Thailand, said: "Once my baby was born, my motherhood was just born too. My little boy is the love of my life. Not only is Danone going beyond in taking care of the employees’ wellbeing, Danone cares about our family’s wellbeing too. I could not ask for anything more valuable than the parental leave policy, which allows me to breastfeed my baby fully, to comfort him when he cries, to hug him as much as he wants, and to build strong parenthood bonding during the first six months with my baby."

Wannawit Kengvibul, Brand Manager, Danone Dumex Thailand, said: "The new parental policy is great because it gives me the invaluable opportunity to spend precious time with my wife and my newborn! It also gives me the time to provide necessary emotional and physical support to my spouse."

Through providing a supportive parental policy, we not only hope to attract talent and create positive impact on productivity and effectiveness; it is also an indication of how highly we value our people and are committed to equity and diversity in our workplace.

Everyone involved benefits from family-friendly policies. They're good for children, parents, and elders; they are in the best interest of employers; and, in the long run, they benefit communities and the society in general.
In the famous words of Mother Teresa, "If you want to change the world, go home and love your family." For Danone, our family is our people, and we take pride in our mission - 'We make everyday count for you and your child'.

From L-R: Kel Vin, Category Development Manager, Danone Dumex Malaysia; Azuin, Digital Manager, Danone Dumex Malaysia; and Normalis Mohd Sharif, Danone’s HR Director for South East Asia

Photo / providedLead photo caption: From L-R: Wannawit Kengvibul, Brand Manager, Danone Dumex Thailand; Normalis Mohd Sharif, Danone’s HR Director for South East Asia; Khwankaew Dhanasettakorn, SEA Product Development Team Manager Global Brand, Danone Dumex Thailand

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