TMX Group Ltd. is among 23 Canadian employers that have signed on to a new parental leave pledge created by Women in Capital Markets.

The pledge provides a roadmap for organizations to follow to ensure their parental leave policies and practices are inclusive and equitable to all those who use them, including non-birth parents and birth parents.

Last year, TMX Group introduced an enhanced parental leave top-up program to make paid leave accessible to all kinds of parents and families, including adoption, surrogacy and non-birth parents. The new program provides employees with up to 15 weeks at a top-up of 100 per cent. Previously, the organization’s top-up program was only for birth parents, so basically a maternity leave, says Karin Adams, the organization’s vice-president of talent and total rewards.

Read: Scotiabank expanding parental leave top-up, adding virtual health care

Since the launch of the enhanced program, 50 employees have started their leaves and more than half are non-birth parents. “When you launch things like this, you don’t know how they’re going to land or what the usage is going to be,” she says. “When you think about the fact that they didn’t have the opportunity for anything before, it’s really heartwarming to see that kind of take up.”

TMX Group is a participating sponsor organization with WCM, which developed the pledge based on research conducted that looked at key aspects of inequity in the workforce in relation to parental leave options. This includes leave duration, the barriers and biases that impact decision-making and the challenges faced when returning to work, including an adverse impact on long-term career development.

Indeed, TMX Group’s enhanced paid leave is aimed at creating more inclusive and equitable parental leave options for employees. “We view this as a universal benefit,” says Adams. “It’s not only about whether it will help to attract and retain diverse talent, but it also fits in with our overall equity, diversity and inclusion strategy because it signals to prospective and current employees our overall commitment to gender equity in the workplace. It’s a bit of a win-win for us on many fronts.”

Read: Paternity leave can improve mothers’ overall health: study

In addition to TMX Group, the other signatories of the new parental leave pledge are: ATB Financial, Aviso Wealth Inc., Bitbuy, Canaccord Genuity Corp., the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Desjardins Insurance, DBRS Morningstar, Franklin Templeton, IG Wealth Management, the Investment Planning Counsel, the Investment Management Corp. of Ontario, KPMG Canada, Laurentian Bank of Canada, Mackenzie Investments, Manulife Financial Corp., Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Onex Corp., the OPSEU Pension Trust, the Public Sector Pension Investment Board, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Raymond James Ltd. and Scotiabank.

“We are encouraged by the commitment of our sponsors who are taking action, but we still have a long way to go as an industry when it comes to destigmatizing parental leaves and equalizing childcare responsibilities,” said Lara Zink, president and chief executive officer at WCM, in a press release. “I challenge all leaders in the Canadian financial services sector to participate in and amplify this important initiative.

“The key to remember is that it’s not just about the creation and implementation of a flexible, inclusive parental leave policy, which is an important first step. It’s also about working to help evolve cultural norms and finding ways to foster a more supportive and inclusive work environment for everyone who chooses to take parental leave. Eliminating barriers supports parents of all genders — especially fathers and non-birth parents — to participate equally in their child’s care. It also enables organizations to better achieve their retention and diversity goals.”

Read: Paternity leave changes target work-life balance in South Korea