Campbell’s New Parental Leave Policy Is Gender-Neutral, But Not Quite Equal

Campbell Soup Company CEO Denise Morrison announced on Thursday that the company was introducing a new parental leave policy for its US employees, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports:

Campbell’s paid leave, available to 9,650 U.S. employees, comes on top of six to eight weeks of paid disability but does not apply to union employees. …

At Campbell, full- and part-time employees on the job for a year and working more than 20 hours a week are eligible. A company spokeswoman said that Campbell cannot unilaterally impose policy changes on the 1,500 union members who work at facilities in Ohio and Texas, but that it would take up the issue during the next contract talks.

Under terms of Campbell’s policy, primary caregivers will get 10 weeks of paid leave, two of which can be used intermittently, all within a year of the child’s arrival. Secondary caregivers can get two weeks of leave.

Importantly, Campbell’s policy does not distinguish between mothers and fathers, or between adoptive or birth parents. In that respect, it is more progressive than those that only or primarily benefit birth mothers. However, unlike organizations like Twitter and Bank of America, whose recently revamped parental leave policies give the same amount of leave to all parents, Campbell’s still distinguishes between primary and secondary caregivers, which as the Huffington Post’s Alexander C. Kaufman notes, “may mean the so-called parental policy will still effectively be about women”:

Offering less time to the “secondary” caregiver — in most cases, the father — can also make it harder for primary caregivers to restart their careers after going on leave. A recent study of 22,000 companies around the world found that countries with the highest percentages of women in leadership, including at the boardroom and executive levels, offered fathers 11 times more paternity leave days than countries with the lowest percentages of female leaders.

Still, Campbell’s gender-neutral program may be more welcoming to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer families.