Leading the Way for Employer-Supported Childcare Solutions


Danone Italy created an inclusive and customized childcare support programme for its employees. Sonia Malaspina, Human Resources Director Specialized Nutrition South Europe, Danone explains how they achieved it.

Why is Danone Italy providing childcare support to its employees?

As a company with a large early life nutrition business, we (Danone) decided that one concrete contribution we could make that would make a difference would be to scale up significantly the support that we (Danone) bring to moms.” - Emmanuel Faber, Chairman and CEO, Danone.

Danone strongly believes in encouraging the contribution of women in business. Given the high unemployment rate for women in Italy, Danone Italy decided to take action to conceptualize how it can leverage and support women in the workplace. From the business perspective, providing childcare support is essential for Danone Italy to encourage the professional growth of women, and to promote their retention in the workplace. For Danone Italy, women’s contributions in business are key to the company’s mission, growth and thus, to its success.

How did Danone Italy design and implement family-friendly policies for its employees?

To create an inclusive and customized childcare support programme for its employees, Danone Italy focused on listening to the main users of these policies – its employees. Danone Italy created a focus group of its employees and union representatives to elicit feedback on childcare policies. Consequently, Danone Italy devised the Baby Decalogue – 10 simple rules for the company to support its working parent employees. This includes practices such as doubling social security contribution during maternity leave and providing and encouraging a policy of 10 days of paid paternity leave, versus 5 days provided by national law.

How does Danone Italy support its employees who are working parents?

As part of the Baby Decalogue, Danone Italy also makes provisions beyond economic contributions and providing paid parental leave for new parents. Danone Italy ensures establishing a clear communication channel during maternity leave to share information about business and new projects, and offers new parents a Mother package every year, for three years, containing Mellin’s products for the baby, from 6 months - 3 years old. They also pay attention to new mothers’ needs by ensuring regularly planned meeting with Human Resources, to listen and support new mothers as they return to work after maternity leave. Danone Italy also focuses on measuring and enhancing the improved soft skills of employees during and after parental leave, through its MAAM Tool – Maternity as a Master, a digital tool for new parents.

What is the impact of providing such support to employees?

Danone Italy’s MAAM tool has enabled the company to create real impact on its employees, in the form of improved job and skills-related outcomes. 76 per cent of Danone Italy’s parent employees are making use of the MAAM tool. As a result, 83 per cent of participants have recorded improved soft skills, 79 per cent feel more energized, and 75 per cent of parents feel more engaged with the company. Participants have also recorded a 35 per cent improvement in key skill areas like the ability to delegate, the ability to manage priorities and time, and a 20 per cent improvement in intellectual agility. Additionally, because of Danone Italy’s “Parto e Riparto” (Giving birth and restarting) External Communication Programme, 100 per cent of new mothers come back to their jobs at Danone Italy, after pregnancy.

Danone Italy now records 100 per cent of its employees who are new fathers benefiting from its paternity leave policy, and records a 0.7 per cent employee absenteeism rate, in comparison with the national average of 5.4 per cent absenteeism in Italy.

Making the case: Why other companies should join Danone in providing childcare support to their employees

We know that we are losing part of the women talent in the organization when a new child comes. It is a complete revolution. And so, beyond the gender neutral paid parental leave, we are also bringing pre-natal support, post-natal support in the sense of work balance arrangements to make sure that women are coming back to work in an appropriate manner, and we have committed that this policy would be rolled out in the world for our 100, 000 employees by 2020.”  - Emmanuel Faber, Chairman and CEO, Danone.

Danone strongly believes that it is important to offer equal opportunities for women and men in all fields of the economy and at all job levels. And supporting working parents and new mothers is a key component of this objective. Through family-friendly policies and programmes, companies can create an inclusive environment and value addition for not only women and children, but also for men, families, businesses and society. Danone Italy has experienced strengthened workforce development and engagement as a result of supporting family-friendly programmes. And their story serves as an example of how corporations can similarly strengthen talent diversity and improve staff retention and satisfaction.


Photographer & Videographer Credit: Danone
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