Standard Chartered is setting itself up to compete for the banking world’s top talent by rolling out a parental leave policy that applies equally to both parents.
The British lender said the policy of offering new fathers at least 20 weeks of paid leave will kick in globally from September, except in certain countries where it will be subject to local regulatory approvals, Bloomberg reported Wednesday.
With its expanded allowance, Standard Chartered will be the first bank of its “size, reach, and operations” to offer this many fully paid weeks of leave for all new parents, a spokesperson told Fortune.
The bank previously offered 20 weeks of paid maternity leave and two weeks of paternity and adoption leave, it said. Its new policy to offer gender-neutral paid leave for all new parents is an effort to make it an attractive employer for the next generation of talent.
“Employees, particularly those in the Gen Z workforce who are expected to comprise over a third of our future workforce from 2030, are also seeking greater flexibility through the availability of benefits that are attuned to their personal circumstances,” the company’s spokesperson said. “Family formation is one of life’s key moments and supporting colleagues through this personal milestone is critical to attract, motivate and retain talent.”
The move marks a departure from the approach of many U.S.-based companies—many men in the U.S. don’t have the same access to paid family leave as women as they are seen as secondary caregivers to mothers.
Only 9% of America’s biggest companies offered at least 12 weeks of paid time off for new parents—both mothers and fathers—in 2022, according to nonprofit JUST Capital.
What are banks doing about parental leave?
While Standard Chartered claims its policy is industry-leading, it’s not the only major lender to have recently ramped up its parental leave policy.
London-based Barclays said in June that it would boost its parental leave policy so that all of its U.S.-based caregivers could take at least 16 weeks of paid leave.
The company also introduced recovery leave for birth mothers of six to eight weeks in addition to maternity leave, according to Bloomberg.
Last month, the bank increased primary caregivers’ paid leave in the Asia-Pacific region to 26 weeks, while non-primary caregivers are entitled to 16 weeks.
While banks are making strides in their parental leave policies, data shows that many U.S. employers in other industries are cutting paid time off for new moms and dads.
Of the companies surveyed by the Society for Human Resource Management in 2022, only 35% of employers offered paid parental leave beyond the legal requirement of 12 weeks.
That’s down from 53% in 2020, the data from the HR trade association for revealed, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Introducing parental leave parity for moms and dads could be an important step toward closing the gender gap in the workforce.
When new dads are encouraged to take paid time off, moms are able to better engage in paid work, improving their labor-force participation, studies show.
Men having more parental leave has also been linked to stronger marriages and lower chances of postpartum depression.
Meanwhile, in countries where new dads have time to care for their newborn, the gap in wage and participation between genders has been proven to be much narrower.