Volvo Cars will offer 24 weeks parental leave to fathers as well as mothers

Swedish carmaker’s move is designed to boost number of female managers

Volvo Cars’ plant in Gothenburg, Sweden: ‘In the long term, our brand will be stronger.’ Photograph: Jonathan Nackstrand / AFP

Volvo Cars will offer full parental leave across the company to fathers, with 24 paid weeks for parents regardless of gender in a move the carmaker hopes will eventually help raise the number of senior female managers and bolster its reputation among potential car buyers.

The group joins a growing number of companies rolling out joint benefits, including Standard Life Aberdeen, which offers nine months fully paid to both parents, and drinks giant Diageo's policy of 26 weeks paternity leave in some markets.

Volvo currently offers six months of paid leave to new mothers but follows local country regulations for fathers.

Its new policy, from April, will mean employees who have been with the company for a year, including factory workers, will be able to take the full period on 80 per cent pay.


The company ran a trial among European sales staff over the past two years and found equal take-up from men and women.

While generous parental leave is common among Swedish companies, Volvo will extend the policy to its global workforce, including staff in the US and China.

“You will never know what the value of this is, but it is often the really important things you cannot directly measure, but you still have to do them,” said chief executive Hakan Samuelsson, likening the move to the decision to install the first airbags in its cars.

‘Right thing to do’

“It will cost millions of dollars, but it is the right thing to do, and we hope others will follow,” he told the FT.

He said the carmaker’s brand, which already traded on safety and sustainability, would also be helped by the shift.

“When people hear it is Volvo doing this, I don’t think they will be surprised,” Samuelsson said, predicting that future buyers “will choose brands more on values than on horsepower”.

The move would also increase the number of female managers at the company, Samuelsson believed, in part by removing the stigma of taking extended working breaks.

“We don’t want to see females overtaken when they have kids.”

Currently, a third of Volvo’s senior management is female, but the company aims to raise this to 50 per cent.

“In the long term, our brand will be stronger, because we have better, [more] diverse leadership to take the right decisions,” Samuelsson added.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2021