Chris Murray joined SAP 22 years ago, and today he is a Product Support Manager in Digital Business Services (DBS). Chris has seen his share of transformation and change during his decades at SAP, and one change he is especially thankful for is SAP’s parental leave policy.
Chris originally took his parental leave when his now seven-year-old daughter was born, feeling empowered to use his leave due to SAP’s support and a colleague who took paternity leave himself with his first and second child. While Chris’ manager at the time of his daughter’s birth had a child and didn’t take parental leave, he was supportive of Chris taking his own.
Chris said, “Supportive was the main theme, I never had anyone pushing back, and I think particularly some of my female colleagues viewed it as really positive that a male colleague would take time off so they could spend it with their newborn.” He never encountered negative opinions about parental leave.
“The whole experience allowed me to go into a completely different head space. My wife says I was a different person when I had no work stresses.”
Despite Chris’ initial concern about the length of time he would be taking off since he’s a support team manager, his leave gave another colleague on the management track a valuable opportunity to step in and manage his team in his absence.
Chris realized the benefits of parental leave and taking one’s mind off work and focusing on family. He reflected, “I was able to completely shut off work and just spend time with my daughter, and since coming back from parental leave, family leave has become something that I actively encourage.” His team has some new fathers on it today, and Chris always asks them if they plan on taking parental leave once he learns they have a baby on the way.
Thanks to his own leave, Chris shared precious moments with his daughter at the park, took trips around the city, and enjoyed doing various other “kid things” around Vancouver which was what he appreciated most.
Aside from spending valuable time with his daughter, another monumental benefit Chris found was removing the burden of being the sole caregiver from his wife’s shoulders. Thanks to his parental leave, his wife got more sleep and returned to work sooner than she would have had Chris not taken leave. With Chris caring for his daughter full-time, his wife was able to feel at ease when she returned to work. Moreover, his wife’s transition back to work happened more smoothly since she did not have to go through the gradual return to employment, but instead returned to work on a full-time basis, confident Chris would take care of everything at home adequately.
Chris found his mental state at work and with his family were completely different, and recollected, “The whole experience allowed me to go into a completely different head space. My wife says I was a different person when I had no work stresses.”
Chris was also thankful for the gradual and straightforward process for returning to SAP once his parental leave was finished. While it was an adjustment, Chris met with the manager that was looking after his team during his leave, gave feedback, and received feedback on how the weeks went. As a result, Chris was able to step in and start running the team again rather seamlessly.
His parental leave gave Chris a greater appreciation for SAP as an employer as he stated, “The experience made me appreciate my employer a lot more, and helped me recognize just how special it is that SAP supports this type of opportunity for fathers.”
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 parental leave would be perceived as a lack of commitment to their careers but a wealth of research shows men who take parental leave are more active and engaged fathers with stronger family relationships, lower divorce rates, and are more successful partners. Parental leave is also associated with overall improved mental/physical health and well-being for new mothers and new fathers. SAP’s paid shared parental leave 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.
To learn more about gender equality and parental leave, check out Shuchi Sharma’s blog on parental leave at SAP.