As much as we believe in the strength of Lebanese women, it's hard for them to lead a healthy family life and focus on their careers in the light of the unjust policies in the private and public sector. As for 2014, the Lebanese law was updated so that it offers a ten-weeks Maternal leave instead of the seven-weeks before. While this small initiative from the State came as a relief, it hasn't met still the real need of new mothers requiring a six-month Maternal leave, nor hasn't been applied in the private sector either taken into consideration the fathers' need for paternity leave.
As much as it's crucial for having a mother around through the early days of an infant, the importance of having a father around is undeniable. Unfortunately, Lebanon grants only a three-day paternity leave, and it's still not forced on nor implemented in the private sector.
Hence, as companies in Lebanon are just starting paying due attention to such important matter, the acknowledgment and implementation still at its very baby-steps. After Diageo last week, implementing parental leave for both parents, it is now Zomato that comes under our spotlight for its conscious initiative in that regard. Zomato has actually started implementing its new parental policy in June to grant that basic right for both new mothers and fathers in their employment.
For those who haven't heard of Zomato, it is a platform of restaurants, food delivery, and reviews. The company believes that people produce their best work when their personal and professional goals meaningfully intersect and align. A principle we totally agree with!
Through their new policy, all of Zomato's employees throughout 24 countries are now eligible for a universal paid parental leave, with a minimum of 26 weeks to both men and women. This policy also applies to non-birthing parents in cases of surrogacy and adoption.
In addition to the paid leave, the new parents at Zomato will also benefit from an endowment of $1000 per child (aka, x2 if twins) as they welcome their new baby to the world. These benefits of parental leave and endowment will also be available to employees who have had already a newborn within the last 6 months.
In that regard, 34-year old Zomato's Founder and CEO Deepinder Goyal said, "There’s an African adage – it takes a village to raise a child. And while a village is ideal, a world where both parents are allowed, rather encouraged, to assume equal responsibility is a fair start. We will never have truly gender-neutral organizations unless we have gender-neutral communities and gender-neutral nations."
To be noted, Zomato has already adopted several ground-breaking policies, from the elimination of probationary periods for new employees to offering complimentary mental health support through an in-house psychiatry team. This is increasingly making Zomato a role model for creating an exceptional work environment for its employees.
It's inspiring seeing global and leading institutions being so diverse, believing in gender equality, and acknowledging in their policies the rights of having paid parental leave.
With Diageo Lebanon and Zomato becoming the first to implement universal parental policies, we hope that all Lebanese companies will be consciously inspired to follow suit in implementing Paternity leave and longer Maternity leave.
As women in Lebanon are still walking their journey for equal rights, it is imperative that Lebanese men also get their rights to live fully the first stage of their fatherhood and join hands with their wives. As Mr. Goyal stated, both parents must be encouraged to assume equal responsibility with their newborn.
Until Lebanon hopefully becomes a gender-neutral nation of gender-neutral communities, we encourage all companies in Lebanon to start implementing conscious business principles for the benefits of all.