Claire Punins, Exploration Geologist, her husband Robin, and their son James.
Claire Punins, Exploration Geologist, her husband Robin, and their son James.

If you are a woman starting out in your career, paid maternity leave as a benefit might not be at the forefront of your mind just yet. But at some point, it could become very important to you, your partner, and your child.

Adjusting to new experiences, routines and sleep schedules is more than enough to occupy your time when you’ve just had a baby. Uncertainty associated with taking maternity leave can sometimes add further challenges. 

That’s why Shell is proud to be the first major integrated oil and gas company to introduce a new global standard of 16 weeks paid maternity leave. This initiative is intended to support working mothers and their families. It’s another example of Shell’s commitment to creating an inclusive workplace and demonstrating our care for our employees and their families.

“For Shell, this is a very significant step in the right direction for equality,” says Exploration Geologist (and proud mom) Claire Punins, who was a leading voice in the internal program to establish a global maternity framework.

“All women should receive the support they need as new mothers, regardless of where they are in the world. Having a global maternity standard at Shell is not only the right thing to do, but it also makes business sense. It makes us more attractive to women seeking jobs, and means they stay with us for longer.”

An important step towards gender balance

Our new maternity framework adds to the ways in which we are actively working to maintain our position as a leading employer of top talent.

External research shows that longer maternity leave positively impacts health for both mothers and children, and also supports earning power continuity for women. It’s no wonder that it also benefits companies by supporting attraction and retention efforts.

Caring for our employees and their families

While the standard explicitly addresses paid leave, Claire believes it also creates an opportunity for important conversations around what women experience in Shell prior to, during, and after their maternity leave.

As a dual-career family, returning to work after maternity leave was always in the plan for Claire. She says: “Nothing could have prepared me for the overwhelming exhilaration and exhaustion of becoming a mother when my son James was born.”

Downstream Executive Director John Abbott feels this new standard will give prospective employees an insight into Shell’s commitment to being progressive and inclusive. “The true hallmark of our progress is that inclusion is embedded in everything we do,” he says.

“Introducing this minimum standard for paid maternity leave across Shell is good for our people and for our business, and, in my view, is simply the right thing to do.”

In the United States

Shell U.S. is adopting the global standard in ways that reflect the diversity of our workforce, partners and the communities in which we operate by broadening our scope to include fathers and adoptive parents. 

“This change has been made to provide employees greater flexibility in balancing work and family and to ensure that we can attract and retain the diverse talent we need to continue as an industry leader,” said Bruce Culpepper, U.S. Country Chair and President, Shell Oil Company.

 “Our commitment to inclusion and care for people can be a source of pride for all employees - regardless of their stage in life or personal choices in defining ‘family’.” 

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