To celebrate Mother’s Day 2021, we spoke with some of Salesforce Belgium’s working moms to find out what it’s like working at a values-driven company like Salesforce and how they support their employees during maternity leave.
As a business, Salesforce has a strong focus on diversity, inclusion, and equality, with initiatives like the Salesforce Women’s Network an integral part of the company culture. Women are valued as hard-working professionals within the Salesforce ecosystem. So we wanted to find out how some of those women balance their careers with being hard-working moms as well.
We spoke to:
Aliki Foinikopoulou, Director for EU Government Affairs and Public Policy, who has just come back from maternity leave after having her first daughter (during the pandemic!).
Sandra (San) Cools, Executive Assistant, a single mom of a 22-year-old.
Cécile Kempeneers, Director for Professional Services, and part-time single mom of a seven-year-old.
The entitlement for taking time off for a new baby varies around the world, but at Salesforce we understand that it’s both challenging and precious when a new family member arrives.
That’s why employees have two options for parental leave. The main caregiver can take 26 weeks of paid leave after the birth of a child, and the secondary caregiver can take 12 weeks of paid leave. Compare that to Belgium’s national entitlement of just 15 weeks maternity leave and 15 days paternity leave, and you can see why, as Cécile said, “It shows the quality we’re bringing to new parents”.
“I think in addition to everything that Salesforce offers to new parents, having the support, psychologically speaking, made starting a family in a pandemic less of a lonely experience,” said Aliki. “Everyone I talk to at other companies is amazed by the fact we’re given so much time!”
“26 weeks of maternity leave is substantially more than what the Belgian state gives, and it’s reassuring to know you have more time.”
“I never felt like I needed to be online, it was made clear that now is my time to be away and enjoy time with my family.”
Aliki Foinikopoulou with her daughter
It’s not just parents of new babies who appreciate the support they get from Salesforce. San explained how she has experienced the Salesforce family culture as the parent of an older teenager (she joined Salesforce when her son was 19).
“Sometimes I need my quality time with my son, even though he’s older,” explained San, “and I’m allowed to say during the day that I need some family time for an hour.
“Salesforce offers great flexibility to mothers with older kids, and it’s flexibility based on trust.”
It’s something that parents with kids of all ages can experience; the relaxed culture that greatly values families, and family time. “These values were one of the reasons I joined Salesforce,” said San, “As while lots of companies say they have these values, at Salesforce they really practice what they preach”.
The culture at Salesforce is definitely focused on supporting the workforce, and, in turn, that leads to higher productivity and loyalty. “During the height of the pandemic we all kept on target,” explained Cécile, “So there was no reason for the company to say ‘let’s reduce that support’. You know as an employee when it’s time to give more, and when you need to relax. When we needed moments to relax, we had the support to do it, because they knew it would help us to get to the finishing line.
“The support will drive you on and give you the motivation to give that little extra when it’s necessary.”
Becoming part of the Salesforce family and everything that encompasses definitely reflects the old adage that ‘it takes a tribe’ to raise a child. Salesforce, both locally in Belgium and worldwide, becomes that tribe for working moms.
“I feel supported not only as a colleague but as a mother,” said San. “Even with a son of 22, you still have questions. Colleagues who are mothers reach out to me and ask how I handled certain things when he was younger, what my solutions were, what worked for me.
“Salesforce is a place to exchange ideas and experiences of being a parent, and I’ve never seen that in another company.”
Sandra (San) Cools with her 22-year-old son
Work-life balance is such an important thing to master, but it’s definitely not always easy, so we asked the working moms what advice they would give to other working parents.
“It’s on you to say stop,” said Cécile, “I had to learn that there’s a moment where we say “this is good enough now”.
“I had to learn how to prioritise and stop focusing too much on the detail while making sure I’m prioritising the tasks where I’m truly needed.”
“You have to find balance,” Aliki agreed, “Before giving birth I was losing the concept of work/life balance. It does mean being more flexible yourself, you might have to work after your kid goes to bed. But having the flexibility from management is great”.
San feels honesty and transparency are crucial. “You can say, I need an hour, my son needs me, and I’m not reachable between 2 and 3. What I’ve learned after 25 years in the same role with different companies is that the job is never done. You have to learn to say stop. Even my son will come and tell me it’s time to stop when it’s late and I’m working in the evening”.
Cécile Kempeneers with her daughter
If you’re interested in experiencing Salesforce’s family-focussed culture for yourself, check out the current job openings for Salesforce Europe!