By Leanne Wood, Chief Human Resources Officer, Vodafone Group
Last week the world marked the United Nations observance day, the Global Day of Parents, established in 2012. At Vodafone, we live our Spirit every day to connect for a better future and enable inclusive and sustainable digital societies. Being truly inclusive means offering people career support and choices that also support their personal and family lives.
At Vodafone, we’re proud to provide 16 weeks fully paid maternity and parental leave for birthing and non-birthing parents, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, or length of service. Across Vodafone’s 24 markets and operations in Africa, the Middle East, Europe and the US, employees can also phase their return from parental leave by working a 30-hour week at full pay over six months.
This year we saw nearly 3,500 people take maternity and parental leave and it’s through their experiences that we can continue to shape our organisation to create an inclusive environment for all. I’ve been moved by stories of employees who have taken the time to become the main care provider after their partner experienced a difficult birth, or those who have been there for the big milestones in the early years.
When I think about my career and the moments that stand out for me, becoming a parent taught me a lot about myself. There is nothing more telling of your own growth than watching yourself influence someone else’s life, their values and their learning and I’m really pleased that we can offer opportunities to support working parents at Vodafone and remove barriers to workplace equality.
It’s not only choices for those with families that we’re committed to offering. We continued to support employees at all stages of their lives by introducing our new global commitment on menopause, with an external toolkit available for other companies to follow in our footsteps.
Our work on gender equality saw us reach 32% of women in senior leadership positions, and I’m particularly pleased to see that 51% of hires from our youth programmes were women, including more than half of graduate and internship hires (53%) and over a third of apprentices (39%) with our efforts recognised by the Bloomberg Gender Equality Index for the fourth consecutive year.
Alongside gender, we continued our support of the LGBT+ community with more than 3,800 allies at Vodafone and active employee networks including the VodAbility and Multicultural Inclusion networks. Global Withstander training has seen more than 33,000 employees become active allies for minority groups to challenge negative behaviours and stereotypes.
In holding ourselves accountable to our Race, Ethnicity and Cultural Heritage (REACH) targets, we are committed to increasing leadership representation across our organisation to reflect the future we want to create. Today, 18% of Vodafone’s global senior leadership team are from ethnically diverse backgrounds, but there is more still to do through allyship, training and reciprocal mentoring to reach our goal of 25%.
This progress is all in the backdrop of a challenging external environment, and our community continues to come together to support those most vulnerable.
I am humbled by the response to the Ukraine crisis. Alongside our humanitarian aid and connectivity efforts, our HR teams are continuing their work to offer fast-track employment to Ukrainians or other nationals displaced by this conflict and are now ensuring they are re-settled smoothly in their new roles, as well as providing language training support to all applicants.
We’ve also seen how the crisis in Ukraine has seen instances of violence towards women and girls, and as we move forward from the pandemic, we must continue to support survivors of gender-based violence and abuse. Our Bright Sky app uses our technology to support survivors and, to date, has connected 1.6million people to the support they need to live free from abuse.
Meanwhile in our Vodafone community, training for employees worldwide continues to help any employee experiencing abuse access the specialist support they need. I’ve been impacted by stories of women who have been able to leave their abusers, despite of how hard it is emotionally, thanks to Vodafone’s support in allowing them to keep working and provide the wellbeing care they need.
We have an ambitious year ahead when it comes to our People, and we’ll continue to unlock the human Spirit of technology to deliver our Purpose. You can read more about our Purpose and commitment to workplace equality in our Annual Report .
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