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'Vodafone NZ inspires domestic violence policy in 25 countries'

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Vodafone Group announced it will be implementing a new programme for victims of domestic violence and abuse in 25 countries, based on a policy developed by Vodafone New Zealand in 2017.

Employees globally will now have access to support and specialist counselling, as well as up to 10 days additional paid leave in all markets.

Vodafone CEO Jason Paris says employees have accessed the NZ programme 8 times since it was launched, and is proud that this important support system has been shared with Vodafone employees around the world.

"I couldn’t be prouder to be announcing this global recognition of our ground-breaking Domestic Violence policy on International Women’s Day. This is another example of the many innovative ways Vodafone NZ is contributing to our Vodafone Group commitment to be the employer of choice for women by 2025.

"When you think of the potential global impact across our operating group for victims of domestic violence of a programme originated here in New Zealand, that’s both inspiring and humbling," Paris said.

Vodafone’s Health, Safety and Wellbeing Manager Max Riley adds, "New Zealand has some of the worst domestic violence statistics in the OECD-, and we believe as an employer we have a role to play in turning that around. That’s why we developed this policy, which goes further than the subsequent legislation that now exists, and is now being recognised as an example of global best practice."

The extra 10 days of ‘safe leave’ gives employees who have faced abuse time to manage their situation without worrying about financial consequences. Employees may use the leave to seek help and counselling, attend police or court appointments, and make arrangements to move house and their children. As part of the programme, specialist training is provided to HR managers to help them support employees experiencing domestic violence or abuse.

A Vodafone employee who has accessed the leave and resources of the policy has described it as Vodafone "wrapping its arms around me". The employee is certain that without the support - and in particular the time off - it would have become too much for her to cope with, and that she would have ultimately ended up losing or leaving her job.

Domestic violence and abuse expert Dr Jane Pillinger said, "Vodafone has become one of the world’s leading companies in its work to prevent domestic violence. Vodafone’s commitment to recognize the impact domestic violence has at work, to respond with support and up to 10 days domestic violence paid leave for affected employees, and to refer to specialist support, along with training for managers, is a major step forward and sends a strong signal to employees that the company takes the issue seriously."

The domestic violence policy is one of many initiatives Vodafone has undertaken to support women in the workplace.

"Vodafone believes that empowering women and promoting gender equality enables communities, economies and businesses to prosper, and its commitment to gender equality is at the very core of the business, as well as being a central pillar of the work of the Vodafone Foundation," Paris adds.

Just last year Vodafone NZ was named the
Supreme Winner at the Equal Pay Awards after implementing initiatives to address equal pay in New Zealand, and also won in the leadership category which celebrates companies who understand the benefits of workplace gender equality and lead the way for others to follow.

As part of its
pioneering parental leave policy introduced in 2015, Vodafone implemented a Phased Return option for employees returning to work after taking extended parental leave. This means employees can work a reduced 30-hour week and still receive pay for a full week’s work for the first six months. The Global Maternity Policy provides an inclusive working environment for women across the company's global footprint, offering women across 30 countries a minimum of 16 weeks fully paid maternity leave. In New Zealand, Vodafone
offers 22 weeks paid parental leave.

In 2017, Vodafone introduced the
ReConnect program for people who have taken an extended career break for up to ten years. The Vodafone ReConnect programme is designed to attract talented women across 25 countries who have left the workplace for several years (in most cases to raise a family) who would like to return to work but are struggling to make the professional connections needed or refresh the skills required.

Vodafone is also committed to connecting 50 million women across its emerging market footprint to narrow the gender connectivity gap. Products and services have been specifically designed for women through local market insights. These products and services help to enable financial inclusion, improve health and wellbeing, build skills and promote entrepreneurship.

For Vodafone NZ, these policies are part of its ongoing commitment to ensure no one gets left behind.

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