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Progressive Parental Leave Empowers People, Deepens Equity

How Women at Nestlé are Empowered by Flexible Work Policies
Lauren with her Son

People are at the center of Nestlé’s success. Without teams who are thriving at work, we wouldn’t be able to bring you the brands you love. That’s why we believe in providing benefits that support employees in every phase of their lives – including when they become parents.

Our gender-neutral Parent Support Policy offers 18 weeks of fully paid leave, plus an optional additional 8 weeks unpaid leave for primary caregivers. During this 26-week window, parents also have the option to flex part-time work to help ease the return-to-work experience. The policy applies to employees across all our operating companies, at every level of the business, in all U.S. locations.

For women, a progressive Parent Support Policy is an essential part of building equity in the workplace. We’re committed to making Nestlé an equitable workplace for women, and we spoke to a group of women across the business who’ve utilized the policy to see the impact it has made, and continues to make, in their careers.

How has leave benefited you as a working parent?

Amanda, Senior Talent Acquistion Manager: Having that time at home to recover and restore your health is amazing. I often think about women who don’t have access to leave, and I don’t know how I would have done it. It's great that this policy is available, women have earned it.

PSP Sarah

Meredith, Senior Paralegal: This policy was a huge reason I joined Nestlé. When this opportunity came along and I saw the policy, it sealed the deal. Without it I think I would’ve been a big ball of stress!

Lauren, Category Account Manager: Leave is three-fold: it’s yourself, your family and your baby. This leave isn't just about physical recovery – it's about mental recovery too. I have the space to bond with my son and recover mentally. I’m at a point where I’m ready and excited to go back to work because I’ve had that time with my baby.

How did your manager and colleagues support you during your leave?

Amanda: I think some people fear they’ll be judged or even punished for taking leave, that it may slow their career progression, but my manager recognized my entire body of work before and after leave. I was promoted within a year of coming back!

Lauren PSP

Sarah, Senior Manager Brand Expansion: As a manager who has had members of my team – both men and women – take advantage of this leave, I can tell you that having this policy makes a difference as a leader. It’s easier to provide support, because there are no negotiations, no assigning of leave based on tenure. Taking time to be with your child doesn’t mean you’re not a high performer, and that’s an understood part of our culture.

Lauren: I’m a person who likes to plan things in advance – my manager let me take time during my pregnancy to get professionally organized. The mantra was “do what you need to feel good”, and for me that meant preparing my counterpart so they could support my role seamlessly. When my son arrived a week early, my team were happy and prepared to jump in immediately so I could start leave and focus on his care.

What was the return-to-work experience like for you?

Meredith: My boss also had a “do what you need to do” mantra. The flex return part of the policy made it easier for me to do daycare drop-offs and not feel guilty.

Amanda: The access to resources has been a game-changer. In the office there are dedicated private spaces for new moms with lockers and fridges for storage, and a reclining chair for comfort. I’ve had conversations with the facilities team about ideas for adding amenities and they’ve been incredibly receptive. I requested that a mirror be added to the room and within a week the team had added a floor length mirror to ensure moms feel comfortable before returning to their workspaces. It’s a very supportive and adaptive environment.

Amanda PSP

Sarah: I’ve come to think of Nestlé as a pro-breastfeeding employer. I’m able to come into the office for meetings and then finish my workday at home with the ability to breastfeed. It makes the balance of parenting and working so much easier. I can be my whole self here.

Why is a progressive Parental Support Policy essential when building an equal workplace?

Sarah: The fact that it’s for everyone, regardless of role or gender, makes it powerful. It establishes the value of allowing people to bring their authentic selves to work, and having access to this policy has really changed how I view workplaces that don’t provide parental support.

Lauren: It’s a reminder of the community aspect of raising a child. Your colleagues are part of your community, and this support has re-energized me and made me feel ready to come back and perform at work.

Meredith: It confirms what is important in life. Your family are the ones who are there for you after work, and you shouldn’t feel guilty about taking the time to be with them and to foster success at home as much as you do at work. The policy is an essential reminder not to stress. You’ve got this.