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Paternity Leave: A “Once in a Life Time” Experience

Arlon Cunha is an SAP veteran with 12 years of experience developing software for SAP who has spent his past three years as a Development Manager. Arlon is based out of out of SAP Labs Latin America in São Leopoldo Brazil, and he is grateful for the experiences SAP has helped him cultivate. One such “once in a lifetime” experience as Arlon put it, was his opportunity to take paternity leave.

The father of a five-month-old daughter and a three-year-old son, Arlon has been fortunate to take advantage of SAP’s new extended paternity leave policy in Brazil which grants new fathers 30 days of leave instead of the previous 20 days. This is especially notable because Brazil’s government only grants five days in a row for general paternity leave.

Arlon learned about SAP’s extended paternity leave policy when he was already on paternity leave the first time when someone who attended SAP’s Latin America Labs All Hands meeting learned about it and reached out to Arlon. He then re-planned and extended his paternity leave to take full advantage of the benefit. Arlon’s manager even complimented him on his decision to take paternity leave and thanked Arlon for requesting the leave five months in advance, allowing his team plenty of time to prepare for his absence.

“With all due respect, it would be the dumbest decision of your life to not take paternity leave. With how much the experience transforms you, the pleasure you receive from being able to really be there for your family and spouse, and everything in between, paternity leave is a once in a lifetime experience.”

Arlon said the reaction he got from his friends and family was similar to his colleague’s reaction as they were all incredibly supportive. Arlon noted, “Here in Brazil, whenever you mention paternity leave people compliment you on your decision as they really understand the importance of it, and overall I felt everyone who knew about it was very encouraging.”

Most of Arlon’s friends had the opportunity to take just a few days off under their own paternity leave policies, and they felt like SAP was a “one of a kind” company in terms of our policy. Arlon said his friends would have had to use nearly all their vacation time to accrue the same paternity leave he received. His friends felt he was lucky to be part of a company that openly supported it.

Arlon remembered, “As a father, I felt it was so important for me to take this time, and for me to be there.” For his first child, Arlon and his wife tried to prepare as best they could. But Arlon found that no matter the books he read or the stories he heard from friends and family, nothing could prepare him for how he felt the first time he was on leave with his son. Arlon said, “It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Being able to be there for my son when he was born and having the experience of feeling myself turn into a father was amazing.”

Arlon was also thankful for and recognizes the benefit of balancing child-caring responsibilities with his wife. Thanks to his paternity leave, Arlon was able to help his wife with feeding, changing, and other responsibilities—a feeling he will always cherish. The birth of his children and his paternity leave will be remembered as one of the most transformative experiences of his life. Arlon pointed out, “We cannot underestimate the importance of fathers being there for every experience—big and small. Even just being there for the smallest thing can mean the world to your family.”

SAP’s support was crucial. Arlon said he was able to focus on his family exclusively during his paternity leave because he knew he had an understanding company backing him up.

When asked if he has any advice for new SAP fathers considering paternity leave, Arlon said, “With all due respect, it would be the dumbest decision of your life to not take paternity leave. With how much the experience transforms you, the pleasure you receive from being able to really be there for your family and spouse, and everything in between, paternity leave is a once in a lifetime experience.

 

As part of our EDGE action plan, the Global Diversity and Inclusion Office is launching numerous campaigns to create awareness and change behavior that benefits both men and women. A recent Deloitte survey found 57% of men said taking paternity leave would be perceived as a lack of commitment to their careers but a wealth of research shows men who take paternity leave are more active and engaged fathers with stronger family relationships, lower divorce rates, and more successful partners. Paternity leave is also associated with overall improved mental/physical health and well-being for new mothers and new fathers. SAP’s six weeks of paid parental leave in the U.S. takes us one step closer to gender equality as parents share child-caring responsibilities more equally and mothers, fathers, and SAP see the benefits with happier and more productive employees.

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