The University of Birmingham in collaboration with Music Football Fatherhood announces the winners of the inaugural Working Dads Employers Awards 2022

Birmingham Business School’s Equal Parenting Project and Music Football Fatherhood developed the awards to celebrate organisations that recognise and promote the role of fathers in driving gender equality in the workplace. 

By supporting parents employers can aid working families, attract and retain top talent, help close the gender pay gap and alleviate the motherhood penalty.  The awards, not only celebrate current employers, but give companies the opportunity to further break down the gendered barriers to child-caring in order to promote gender equality in the workplace, reduce the gender pay-gap, encourage more women onto boards and enhance the wellbeing of families.

The awards have four key categories presented by Andrew Gwynne MP, Chair of the Fatherhood APPG and Anna Whitehouse, founder of Mother Pukka

The Flexible Working Award, presented to Now Teach and Suffolk County Council, celebrates organisations that are not simply ticking the box when they talk about or implement flexible working but rather see flexible working as central to what they do and the default in their business and are striving to make this accessible to working Dads.

The Supporting Returning Dads Award, presented to John Lewis, Suffolk County Council and Vodafone, celebrates the importance of actively managing fathers transition back into the workplace after long periods of caring leave to help them manage work-life balance and keep their careers on track.

The Leadership and Culture Award, presented to AON, recognises supportive workplace culture with broad leadership teams committed to supporting Dads at work and challenging cultural expectations that only mothers can engage in childcare..

The Parenting Policies Award, presented to Aviva, John Lewis, Nationwide, Suffolk County Council, Vodafone and Waltham Forest Council celebrates organisations who excel in enhancing their parenting policies and encouraging fathers to use these policies.

Partner organisations instrumental in bringing these timely awards include CBI, Business in the Community, Working Families, Global Equality Collective, Pregnant and Screwed, Fatherhood Institute, Future Men and the Medical Women’s Federation.

These awards will lead to 4 case studies which will be made available to help employers, from SME’s to multinationals across the UK to reflect upon and improve their support for fathers in the workplace

Dr Holly Birkett & Dr Sarah Forbes – Equal Parenting Project said – “These awards have demonstrated the wonderful work our winners have been doing supporting Dads in the workplace and breaking down gendered cultural barriers to caring.  We hope by celebrating and communicating about these excellent initiatives we can collectively inspire other employers to think about how they too can better support working Dads and encourage less gendered attitudes around childcaring in order to give families more choices about caring, promote gender equality in the workplace and help close the gender pay gap

Elliott Rae – MusicFootballFatherhood said – “The world is changing and more dads want to play a more active and present role in their families lives. They want to work flexibly, take extended paternity leave and work for organisations who support them to be active parents at home. The outdated gendered parenting roles are quickly becoming a thing of the past and it is our pleasure to celebrate the organisations that are supporting their working dads to be active parents at home. The work these companies are doing is ground-breaking and well truly make a significant positive difference to people’s lives. The benefits are plentiful from increased workplace gender equality, mental health and wellbeing and outcomes for our children.”

John Lewis

Andrew Murphy, Chief Operating Officer for the John Lewis Partnership said: “Equality, fairness and happiness are founding principles of the John Lewis Partnership, and are enshrined in our employee-owned structure and Constitution. The policies we launched last year to support fathers and their families when they really need it, were developed in response to our Partners (employees) sharing what mattered most to them.  These policies support our vision to become the UK’s most inclusive business – for Partners and customers

“The Co-Chairs of our Working Parents Network, suggested we apply for these inaugural awards. We’re very glad that we did. It’s wonderful to have our philosophy and our policies recognised and we hope this recognition encourages other employers to develop similar approaches.”

Aon

July Page, CEO AON UK said “Aon is committed to creating an inclusive workplace, where all our colleagues feel a sense of belonging and equally supported and valued. One of Aon’s many Business Resource Groups, is focused on supporting parents and carers in all areas of work and home life. We recognise the importance of supporting working dads and the positive impact this can have on their work-life balance, their family, wider society and to gender parity more broadly.”

David Bogg, Executive Sponsor of the AON UK Parents and carers network said “We have a fantastic Parents and Carers Business Resource Group and a Dads@Aon network, creating a space where dads can talk, listen and be heard. The network has grown rapidly in the last nine months and it is wonderful to see the positive impact it has already had on so many dads creating a culture where men are encouraged to have brave conversations about fatherhood and work-life balance in the workplace, which benefits them directly and gender parity more broadly.”

Nationwide

Jane Hanson, Leader of People and Culture at Nationwide said: “Providing support to fathers is testament to Nationwide’s commitment to enable everyone to manage their work lives around their families. Such an approach, underpinned by our range of family-friendly policies, means fathers can strike the right balance between work and home. We want fathers across the UK to thrive in a way that meets the needs of themselves and their families. Nationwide’s Working Families Network have been and will continue to be central to this journey as we further improve and evolve the support we offer our colleagues.”

Sara Bennison, Chief Product and Marketing Officer at Nationwide, said: “At Nationwide, we have worked hard to make sure our policies offer the support colleagues need to thrive at work, recognising the particular needs parents have. From starting a family through to times of emergency, we want to do what we can to help by providing the necessary time and resources. Our Working Families Network of colleagues provide the real-life insight to shape policies where the voice of fathers is as loud and important and respected as that of mothers. These awards complement that insight with ideas from other leading organisation around how to support fathers in the workplace and working families more broadly.”

Aviva

Danny Harmer, Aviva’s Chief People Office said: “The chance to spend more time with a new arrival during the important first few months has proved to be hugely beneficial for thousands of our Aviva parents. From supporting their partners, to the positive impact it has on mental wellbeing and engagement with family life, equal parental leave has been literally life-changing for our people. 

“Men taking parental leave have a better understanding of the choices female colleagues have to make when balancing parenting with their career which makes them more empathetic colleagues and leaders too. It has also inspired our dads at Aviva to change the way they think about caring responsibilities.

“As one of the first organisations to offer equal parental leave, we also recognise the positive impact our people can have by sharing their own experiences of taking parental leave, not only within Aviva, but more broadly too. Aviva is committed to challenging gender inequality both at home and in the workplace.”

Vodafone

HR Director, Clare Corkish, HR Director said:  “Vodafone is proud to support all families by giving every parent the opportunity to have more time with their children, without worrying about the impact on their careers.  Inclusion for all is one of the three pillars of our company Purpose, and in order to achieve this, our policies have been designed to best meet the needs of our employees. We appreciate that supporting fathers in the workplace makes a more equal division of childcare possible, benefitting all of society.” 

“We are committed to helping protect and support our people and their families through important life stages. The Working Dads Employer Awards are important in reinforcing our ambition to be an employer of choice, and recognise our dedication in this space”

Waltham Forest Council

Cllr Clyde Loakes, Deputy Leader said: “We are committed to supporting our staff and their families through flexible working practices at Waltham Forest.  We recognise that by creating and developing family friendly policies we are best placed to support our working dads to balance work life and family life”.  

“We were the first employer in the UK to provide our staff who have premature babies with extra leave, at full pay, and we will continue to ensure we work to protect men’s health and wellbeing. “

Ben Browne, Director of People and Organisational Development said: “I am proud of the many family-friendly policies that we offer here at Waltham Forest and recently we’ve been able to enhance some of these policies including paid time off for ante-natal, post-natal, and key adoption appointments to further support fathers and partners.  We are committed to continue working towards ensuring that fathers working at the Council feel supported, valued and equipped to better manage their worklife balance”.  

Suffolk County Council

Chris Bally, Deputy Chief Executive of Suffolk County Council, said: “For several years, we have been focusing on creating the most supportive conditions possible for working parents. Encouraging more equal and balanced parenting benefits everyone – not only parents and their children, but employers and society at large as well.  National and international research shows that perceptions relating to motherhood can have an effect on career progression and contribute to the gender pay gap. This can be reduced if parenting is seen as the equal responsibility of parents of all genders. Enabling our male staff to play a more active part in their children’s lives is an important part of this.  As a working Dad, I know I have benefitted from the flexible approach. Often, this has been about sharing responsibility around the small things like lifts to school and supporting events. It makes a big difference to home life and certainly makes me appreciate more the approach we take at Suffolk County Council.”

Councillor Bobby Bennett, Cabinet Member for Equality and Communities, said: “Our efforts to support working parents, and our equality work more broadly, form an important part of our values, and help us to stand out in a competitive recruitment market. We aim to be an exemplar employer, and we believe that we are operating at the cutting edge, especially within local government and the public sector.  We hope that by demonstrating good practice and inclusivity we can help society at large to become more inclusive and inspire other organisations to follow suit.”

Now Teach

Meera Moynihan, Director of Operations, Now Teach, said: Flexibility is cited as one of our greatest strengths as an organisation and for us that’s about supporting our team at whatever stage of life they are. Given the reports that the childcare balance was skewed towards women during the pandemic, it is even more important that employers ensure that working dads are encouraged and supported to share in childcare and be the dads they want to be – whether that’s offering compressed hours, supporting Shared Parental Leave or just being open as an organisation that family comes first. 

“Things like the Working Dads Employer Awards are so important to showcase great examples of how organisations can support their teams – entering the awards helped us reflect on what we have done to support our working dads, and we’re looking forward to hearing from other organisations to consider what we can do next. Highlighting the small changes as well as the big ones to create the right culture, is the best step towards creating better equality for all working parents.”

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