Henkel Expands Gender-Neutral Parental Leave Program for Employees Worldwide

Jan 17, 2024 9:30 AM ET

Henkel, a leading manufacturer of well-known consumer and industrial brands, such as Dial® soap, Schwarzkopf® hair care, all® laundry detergent, and Loctite®, Technomelt® and Bonderite® adhesives, sealants, and functional coatings, has expanded its parental leave policy for all U.S. employees, regardless of gender or family structure.

Expansion in the United States 

To reaffirm our purpose as pioneers at heart for the good of generations, paid parental leave for Henkel U.S. employees has been increased from a maximum of 6 weeks to 12 weeks of fully paid time off for all new parents, regardless of gender, who welcome a child into their home through birth, adoption, surrogacy, guardianship or fostering -- demonstrating our firm commitment to equity in parenting and childcare for all parents.

“Henkel values the uniqueness of our employees and offers a comprehensive Total Rewards package with benefits and programs that allow members of our organization to choose what’s most important for them and their families,” said Valeria Gladsztein, Regional Human Resources Head, North America. “Time for parent and child bonding can promote the health and wellbeing of all family members and increase equity and career growth in the workplace. I am incredibly proud to be a part of shaping a bright future for the good of generations to come.”

Paid Parental Leave is only one of the programs within Henkel’s U.S. Total Rewards package that offers choice and flexibility in family care. Henkel recently implemented program additions that include virtual behavioral health care for children and teens, access to reliable and affordable childcare and elder care, and confidential personalized mental health care for employees and their families. In 2024, Henkel will also be introducing benefit enhancements for fertility treatments, adoption, and surrogacy assistance.

Parents on leave also receive a ‘future pioneer’ welcome kit to show support for their growing family. With items meant for both parents and children, including a Henkel onesie, hat, bib, blanket, water bottle, diaper bag, and more, these care packages are a way of celebrating new additions and letting employees know that their team looks forward to welcoming them back upon their return to work.

Setting a new global standard

Beyond this expansion in the United States, in 2024, Henkel will implement a new gender-neutral parental leave standard for its close to 50,000 employees worldwide, intended to complement existing local practices and regulations. Each market will offer its employees a minimum global standard of up to eight weeks of fully paid parental leave, based on the caregiver role, rather than their gender or biological parent status. In many markets, including the United States, Henkel will continue to exceed this standard.

“Henkel will become the first German DAX40 company to offer its employees worldwide eight weeks of fully paid parental leave”, says Carsten Knobel, CEO of Henkel. “This initiative sends a strong signal to all our employees and underscores our unwavering commitment to fostering a more inclusive culture and more gender equity.”

Sylvie Nicol, Executive Vice President Human Resources, Infrastructure and Sustainability, adds: “Through this initiative, we want to support parents and challenge traditional gender roles, enabling everyone to participate equally in childcare. However, addressing this inequality is not the sole objective of our new global standard. It also positions us to meet the expectations of the future workforce.”

This global expansion serves as a crucial foundation for promoting family-friendliness and greater gender equity, particularly in countries where parental leave opportunities are currently lacking. Moreover, in some countries, local practices exclude specific family types, such as single fathers, adoptive parents, and surrogacy parents. Recognizing this, Henkel has identified the need to establish a universal standard that applies to all caregivers.

After implementation in 2024, Henkel employees in approximately 80 countries will have the opportunity to take paid time off to care for and bond with a new child. With this approach, the company demonstrates a firm commitment to its diversity, equity, and inclusion ambitions by taking tangible actions to promote equal access to opportunities consistently around the world.