Many organisations like to call their people family, but only a few of them really mean what they say. For HR leader David Fitz-Gerald, being family means being able to support the people who are also breadwinners of their own households.
David believes providing support is most especially important for employees who are just starting a family or expecting a new child, since finding the right balance between a budding family and work can be extremely difficult.
“Nothing is more important than family – and so, it follows that nothing is more important for an employee than being supported to be an active member of their own family,” David, who is also a self-confessed family man, said.
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As Head of HR for pharmaceutical company GSK in the Australia and New Zealand region, David has led radical changes within the company, making it truly family-oriented.
Starting this year, GSK is implementing a 10-day family leave for employees on a fertility, pregnancy, or adoption journey, increasing the paid leave allowance for both primary and secondary caregivers, removing leave requirements to promote trust, and providing support for those who are on parental leave.
David said an effective parental leave policy is not just about benefits, but also about how the policy makes an employee feel. Companies must understand that the pathway to parenthood is never a straight line.
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“The journey toward parenthood – fertility, pregnancy and/or adoption – is also an intensely personal one and supporting employees along the way requires care and an empathetic and inclusive approach,” the HR leader said.
David has been with GSK for over 12 years, climbing the ranks from recruitment manager to HR head. Prior to this, he had taken on managerial and consultancy roles for various health care companies across Australia.