A question for all the parents out there: so, is it everything you thought it would be? I'm imagining a lot of smiling and simultaneous shakes of the head! For as a Dad of four myself, I know from experience, parenting is life-changing and filled with moments of wonder and joy. But it can also be immeasurably tough, relentless and exhausting in equal measure!
At Nestlé we are proud of our heritage of being there for parents, with nutritional expertise and science-based nutrition solutions, for over 160 years. It's in our DNA. But as any parent knows, it takes more than just good nutrition to raise a healthy, happy child. This is why we have been taking steps to better understand the challenges and experiences faced by parents today, so we can help make the parenting journey easier.
The Parenting Index
We firmly believe that our commitment to support families in the first 1,000 days of life, is one that can only be deepened by a greater awareness of the realities of being a mom or dad in the 21st century. By listening to and understanding the real-life experiences of parents, we can provide fresh insights to the partly outdated conversation around parenting and help ease the pressures that parents face each day.
Launched in February 2021, The Parenting Index was commissioned by Nestlé specifically with this goal in mind. We wanted to create something that would be a unique new lens on the experience of parenting around the world. Inspired by the insight that parenting is incredible and positively transformative – but never easy!
It has resulted in a fascinating snapshot that takes us into the hearts and minds of over 8,000 parents from across 16 different countries across the world. A first-of-its kind study that reveals perceptions and realities around the 'ease of parenting'. I encourage you to take a look at the Index, personally I found it incredibly interesting to hear first-hand about the different challenges faced by parents across the world. But moreover, to read about the number of universal truths and pain points these parents all share, wherever in the world they are raising their children.
From China to Chile, Sweden to Saudi Arabia, Nigeria to the U.S. and a whole host of countries in between, every mom and dad we talked to highlights the pressures they feel as parents. Sure, it is felt in varying degrees, but what I found remarkable is that no matter in which continent or country we were asking the question, each cited the pressure they put on themselves, along with the external pressures they felt from the society around them, as their biggest challenge.
To me, this is something we can help to change. We as a business, as Nestlé, with our global network and reach. But also 'we' as a society, as people who care about our families, our friends, our neighbours, the next generation. To drive real change, it will take all of us, together – all of the 'village' - to make a difference to how parents experience the journey.
Positive change for parents
Starting from the inside out, at Nestlé we have already begun to make real change happen. We introduced a more progressive Nestlé Parental Support Policy (pdf, 3Mb), to provide breastfeeding rooms in all our facilities with over 50 female employees (we've created 6,000 public rooms in countries where we operate). We guarantee a minimum of 18 weeks and 4 weeks of fully paid parental leave respectively for primary and secondary caregivers and offer more flexible working hours.
We have further invested in our Nestlé Baby & me information platform, to continue to make evidence-based advice and support accessible for parents navigating the first 1,000 days.
The Parenting Index is another strand in The Nestlé Parenting Initiative – our strategy of change being evolved and implemented across the world with the goal of working together to help make parents' lives easier. It ladders-up to our ambition to be a advocacy voice for parents, rallying ourselves along with other employers, governments and broader communities, to come together and address the challenges that parents are facing today. So we are committed to commissioning this Index on a biennial basis, to continue to benchmark and monitor change.
Today, more than ever, we remain committed to the ambition we announced in 2016, to help 50 million children lead happier and healthier lives by 2030. Cutting edge nutrition solutions form a big part of this ambition, but so too does emotional parenting support. An enriched understanding of the challenges of parenting will help us take the right actions to address the needs of parents. But we know that we cannot create measurable change alone. So, we are calling on those who share in our vision to join us in making this world an easier place to be a parent and raise healthier, happier future generations.
They say, it takes a village to raise a child, so let us all work together to make that village a positive and supportive one for families everywhere.