Vodafone Group is to introduce a mandatory minimum global maternity policy across 30 countries by the end of 2015.
Women working at all levels across the multinational telecommunications group will be offered at least 16 weeks fully paid maternity leave.
Staff will also receive full pay for a 30-hour week for the first six months after they return to work.
While a number of Vodafone subsidiaries already offer maternity care terms, which will continue as before, the new mandatory minimum global maternity policy aims to help female employees in countries where there is little or no legislative requirement to provide maternity support.
The scheme will be rolled out across its 30 operating companies in Africa, the Middle East, the Asia-Pacific region, Europe and the US.
Vittorio Colao, chief executive of Vodafone Group, said: “Too many talented women leave working life because they face a difficult choice between either caring for a newborn baby or maintaining their careers.
“Our new mandatory minimum global maternity policy will support more than 1,000 Vodafone women employees every year in countries with little or no statutory maternity care.
“Women account for 35% of our employees worldwide but only 21% of our international senior leadership team.
“We believe our new maternity policy will play an important role in helping to bridge that gap.
“Supporting working mothers at all levels of our organisation will ultimately result in better decisions, a better culture and a deeper understanding of our customers’ needs.”