The University of York and University of Birmingham’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, reduce pay inequalities 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, encourage more women onto boards and enhance the wellbeing of families.
The awards, which were hosted by Andrew Gwynne MP, Chair of the Fatherhood APPG in Westminster, with Rt. Hon Caroline Nokes MP, Chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee and Anna Whitehouse, founder of Mother Pukka presenting awards, focus on four key areas where organisations are doing great work to support fathers in the workplace.
The Parental Policies Award, presented to QBE, Suffolk County Council, Vodafone UK and E.ON UK, celebrates organisations who excel in enhancing their parenting policies and encouraging fathers to use these policies.
The Flexible Working Award, presented to E.ON UK, 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 Support for Returning Dads Award, presented to PwC UK LLP and Vodafone UK, 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 the British Medical Journal, John Lewis Partnership and Aon UK, 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.
These awards will lead to case studies of best practice in helping working dads which will be made available to help employers, from SMEs to multinationals across the UK, to reflect upon and improve their support for fathers in the workplace.
Over the past seven years the Equal Parenting Project research team at the University of Birmingham and University of York led by Dr Holly Birkett and Dr Sarah Forbes, has conducted extensive research on fathers in the workplace as well as flexible working usage and intentions among managers and employees since COVID-19. This has significantly informed employer practise and policy decisions promoting gender equality in the workplace.
Elliott Rae, speaker, broadcaster, author and founder of Music Football Fatherhood has worked with organisations over the past few years to help them support their working dads, redefine ideas around masculinity and create safe spaces for culture shifting conversations. Elliott’s powerful keynotes and workshops have been fundamental in helping to break down stereotypes around gender roles in parenting.
These awards have been made possible by the involvement of partners including Business in the Community, Working Families, CIPD, Global Equality Collective, Pregnant and Screwed, Fatherhood Institute, Future Men and Women’s Medical Foundation.
It has been inspiring to hear about the wonderful work winners of the 2023 Working Dads Employer Awards have been doing to support dads in the workplace and promote gender equality in the workplace. We can’t wait to share case studies of this work with other organistions and inspire companies across all industries to up their game supporting working dads and apply for the awards in the future.
Dr Holly Birkett & Dr Sarah Forbes, the Equal Parenting Project
Elliott Rae from Music Football Fatherhood said: “It is amazing to see employers supporting dads and helping them to be active parents at home. Our government statutory paternity leave is amongst the worst in Europe, so businesses leading the way and offering these enhancements to fathers is great to see. We know how important supporting working dads to be active parents is to the mental health and wellbeing of families, gender equity at work and in the home and to the healthy development of children. So a big well done to all of the employers who are helping dads to parent loudly and proudly!”
Andrew Gwynne MP and Chair of the Fatherhood APPG said: “As a longstanding champion of fathers in the workplace, I’m delighted to be hosting the Working Dads Employer Awards again, which were such a massive success last year. There are employers both big and small doing some incredible work in developing policies that empower active fatherhood and equal parenting. It’s only right that they are celebrated, both to recognise the positive change they are making and to incentivise others to do the same.”
I’m pleased to be supporting this year’s awards and to be celebrating the work being done by so many businesses to overcome gendered beliefs and barriers to parenting. The workplace of the future will need to reflect the fact that working parents, regardless of gender, need support to be active and present with their families. It’s wonderful to see organisations introducing more flexible ways of working and I hope many more will follow their lead.
Caroline Nokes, MP and Chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee
Andy Tong, General Manager: “At QBE there is a strong emphasis on doing the right thing for our people and providing support in the moments that matter. Our enhanced policy means all new parents are entitled to the same amount of company enhanced leave and pay, regardless of gender, sexual orientation or how they become a parent. We believe this will help to remove barriers to career progression, challenge traditional gender roles and level the playing field for women and men at home and at work. Offering extended paternity leave and supporting fathers in the workplace has wide-reaching benefits for co-parents themselves, their children, and employers who gain a more engaged and loyal workforce. This also has a positive impact on gender equality beyond our organisation and reflects the needs of dual career families, as time away from work to care for a child can be more equally split. Our intention is to create a culture in which taking paternity leave and extended time out is normalised.”
Ceri Stokoe, Chief Information Officer: “We are very proud to have made a number of positive enhancements to our policies and benefits to ensure we support our people during important life moments. Equalising our paternity leave is a progressive step for us and we are delighted to be recognised by the working dads employer awards. Having worked with Elliott as part of our launch, we were aware of the great work by Music Football Fatherhood and Equal Parenting Project. Their aims to better support fathers to aid working families, attract and retain top talent, close the gender pay gap and promote equality in the workplace align perfectly with our values at QBE.”
Chris Norbury, CEO of E.ON UK: “At E.ON UK, we believe in helping working parents to find that all important work-life balance, and as a working dad to three young children myself, I know only too well how challenging it can sometimes be. We’re proud to be an employer that offers flexible working, supports with the cost of childcare, and offers equal parental leave for both parents.”
Sarah Farmer, Director of Residential Solutions: “As executive sponsor of our Parent Network and someone who works flexibly, I am very much an advocate of the benefits flexible working and equal parent leave brings to both colleagues and the business. I believe that flexible working empowers our people to be at their best. Applying for the Working Dads Employer Awards was a great opportunity to highlight some of the great things E.ON UK offers for our colleagues.”
PwC UK LLP
Ian Elliott, Chief People Officer: “Supporting returning parents is incredibly important to our firm. We want our people to feel they can bring their whole selves to work and feel comfortable sharing their successes and challenges – including those around parenting. With so many PwC colleagues balancing both work and parental responsibilities, we ensure that we have extensive support in place for all parents. This includes our recently enhanced paternity and shared parental leave policies, and support for premature births and neonatal care. We also provide peer support through our SPACE network and we introduced Peppy for non-clinical support and guidance on specific areas of health, which includes early parenthood, fertility and pregnancy. We know that parental responsibilities can be more weighted towards women, and we’re dedicated to creating more equality when it comes to parental leave. We’ve found that both parents benefit from having flexible parental leave options and this results in a positive impact on both home and work lives.”
Sajjad Hassam, Director in Deals: “Having returned to work after six months of shared parental leave, my immediate team and the wider PwC firm have been incredibly supportive. There is a recognition that I have additional responsibilities at home, but equally career ambitions in the workplace; and both are achievable. It’s also recognised that my transition back to work has an impact on my spouse who is still on maternity leave. The support goes beyond the financial package that PwC provides, which is being further enhanced next month. Having access to a dedicated parents and carers network, mentoring and most importantly senior sponsorship from leadership has been key in enabling me to take parental leave, but also in managing the transition back to a full-time role.”
Tom Kirkham, Director: “I took 15 weeks leave for my first child’s birth. As a first-time dad, the leave gave me the opportunity to spend time with my child, establish myself as a parent and support my wife during the first few months. I felt supported during the leave and able to choose the level of contact that worked for me – in the end I chose to do social visits to the office which was a great way to keep connected to everyone. My team also made sure I could switch off from work during the period and focus on my newborn. Prior to the leave, the SPACE network and a coaching course offered by the business helped prepare me for the leave and subsequent return to work. I came back full-time vs a phased return. The leave allowed my wife and I to grow our confidence as new parents so much so that my wife might return to work earlier than initially planned. The flexible working policies help with sharing childcare responsibilities, so I am able to balance this with work commitments. The level of support offered to dads is above and beyond the Government legislation from a financial perspective, making it much more feasible for expecting dads to take extended leave.”
British Medical Journal
Chris Jones, Chief Executive Officer: “At BMJ our goal is to create a culture that breaks through and does away with rigid stereotypes and gender roles. Toxic male culture is alive and well in our society, and our workplace is not an isolated island. To deal with that, we create spaces for meaningful conversations. We encourage men and fathers to be allies for gender equity and to feel comfortable expressing their vulnerability at work. We learn together about issues such as loneliness, mental health and the challenges of being a carer. We recognise that these issues are intersectional. We talk about LGBQTIA+ inclusive parenting, parenting neurodiverse children, single parenting, parenting teens, and more. As a leader of this organisation, I must ‘walk the talk’ and be genuine and open about my own vulnerabilities, to ensure our invitation to be authentic is credible and viable. BMJ is not perfect, but I believe we are a supportive community that continues to grow together.”
Jenny Thompson, Customer Usage Reporting Specialist and Parents and Carers Network Chair and Catherine Lucas, Marketing Manager and Parents and Carers Network founder and ex-Chair: “As parents ourselves, experiencing how isolating working from home can be, we wanted to create a space for mums, dads and carers to meet, share resources and support each other. We set up the Carers network. As working parents, we have much in common. We talk about a range of things, such as dealing with parent’s guilt, settling kids in nursery or school, finding affordable childcare, discussing important topics with our children, down to sharing nutritious recipes that are fast to make and appetising for kids. It takes a village to raise a child, and it turns out it takes a village to support working mums and dads too.”
Dr Will Stahl-Timmins, PhD, Data Graphics Designer: “When my daughter was born, I wanted to be part of her life right from the start. It was important for me to gain skills and confidence as her carer, at par with my partner. I was able to take 10 weeks off at full pay to care for her through shared parental leave. Now that she is a bit older, our flexible work policy and the supportive culture in my team allow me to respond to childcare emergencies where other arrangements fall through at the last minute. It makes me feel able to be there for my daughter when she needs me, not just a mysterious figure who’s always working!”