In a never heard of occurrence in the Indian startup ecosystem this Monday, Zomato announced a radical parental leave policy.
Radical because of the magnitude of positive change this ought to bring in this capitalist system of livelihood prevailing in India, and most of the world. What all the feminists/humanists/liberals had been rooting for since ages, Zomato has turned into a reality with a 26-week universal paid leave.
Yes, you heard it right! 26-week universal paid leave.
Universal as it doesn’t consider just heteronormative relations and birthing as a basis of parenting. Surrogacy, adoption, and homosexual relationships also come under the eligible criteria of situations where this beneficial policy can be availed.
“There won’t be even an iota of difference in parental leave policy for men and women at Zomato going forward,” emphasises Deepinder Goyal, CEO of Zomato in a blog post.
Taking this progressive initiative even further, Zomato understands the financial strain of raising a child and has pledged to help the families with $1,000 at birth, per child. These policy changes are even applicable to employees that welcomed babies into their families in the past 6 months.
Citing its reasons to make this change, Zomato illustrated the understanding around how females remain devoid of leadership opportunities in companies and unfair parenting policies.
Goyal says, “Majority of the senior positions in the world are currently filled by men – and even if an organisation wants to focus on gender balance in the senior ranks within, it is almost impossible to do that because of the supply bias. According to me, a lot of that imbalance at the top stems from an unequal leave policy for men and women when they welcome their children to this world.”
First time in the India and globally (and Zomato is present in 13 countries), someone has taken the charge upon themselves to initiate this change.
Before this, when the government changed the policy in 2017 where maternity leave was extended from 12 to 26 weeks, numerous companies changed their paternity policies as well. But they still weren’t as progressive as Zomato.
The 26 week paternal leaves there were conditioned on the fact that the males were primary caregiver. If not, then the leave came down to 12 weeks.
In fact, after the changes were made, the conversation around “maternity” and “paternity” leaves died down (Another great thing done by Zomato to call it a ‘parenting’ policy, instead of letting it remain a gendered discourse).
To an extent, that small companies even tend to prefer hiring men so as to avoid the maternity “burden”. Yes, 21st century and employers still continue to treat pregnancy and maternity as a “burden” to be borne by the employer and try everything to avoid it.
An ET survey consisting of 9,000 samples had revealed that 46% of these companies prefer men over women for this very reason. There was a dire need for change.
Zomato’s new policy is a sigh of relief and a spark of hope that maybe a domino effect will take place and more and more companies will follow this to create a trend.
All hail Zomato! Pretty please.