Volvo knows it will not be cheap to offer the program to its 40,000-plus employees around the world.
“It’s a lot of money,” Samuelsson said, “But we are quite sure it’s a good investment.”
The benefits he foresees from the program include retaining top talent, especially female executives. He expects this will result in a more diverse, more agile work force.
“We want to think outside the box and not just do everything like everybody else does,” he said. “For that you need diversity, because a company run only by 55-year-old guys from the same town won’t have too many new ideas.”
While Volvo board member Hanna Fager expects the policy to help keep more women in the work force, she also hopes that male employees around the world take advantage of the program.
“We aim to create a cultural mind shift,” Fager told ANE.
Volvo has already seen this happen in its Europe, Middle East and Africa region, where she said nearly half of the participants in the program are men.
“That is the highest that we have ever seen,” said Fager, who as head of corporate functions leads Volvo’s human resources.
When asked how long it took Volvo to decide to offer the program globally, Fager said she and Samuelsson started discussing the topic last September. In January they committed to moving forward.
Four months later the program is ready for launch.
One of Samuelsson’s only regrets is that such a program wasn’t offered when he was starting his family.
“When I was in that situation very few men had the opportunity to really take the time off,” he said. “If I could go back, I would really see the value of doing that.”