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Partner website workingmums.co.uk has, for many years, recognised the need for employers to address issue that hold dads back from playing a bigger role at home. That is why they introduced the Best For Dads award at their annual Top Employer Awards.
Equality at work is linked to equality at home and employers increasingly recognise the need to address the issues that hold back dads from playing more of a role at home.
To encourage innovation and best practice, Workingmums.co.uk introduced its Best for Dads category to its Top Employer Awards in 2012. The award showcases employers who have specific policies targeting dads, such as inclusive parenting networks, publications and outreach targeted around dad’s rights, shared parenting initiatives, innovative policies on parental and paternity leave which go beyond what current legislation stipulates as well as activities which support all parents.
Previous winners have included the London School of Economics and Political Science for its pioneering research leave policy [which allows parents returning from an extended period of leave to opt for a phased return to work using their accrued annual leave], support for new dads and positive approach to Shared Parental Leave.
The most recent winner of the award is law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner. It was praised for its support for dads, backed up by strong and visible senior role models who clearly communicate the importance the firm places on providing a nurturing culture that helps employees to achieve their potential.
At the time of the Awards, the Group was led jointly by two partners – Derek Hrydziuszko and Bonnie Calnan – who both act as Family Champions, are aware of the need to act as role models and discuss their family situations openly with colleagues. In addition to challenging comments which are not in keeping with the firm’s inclusive policies, they regularly communicate with the firm’s 1,400 employees about what the firm’s Family Task Group is doing and about the importance of family life. The firm’s parents network feeds ideas into the Task Group which helps to shape the firm’s inclusivity strategy and coordinates family-related events and support.
Berwin Leighton Paisner’s parents network, which has a good balance of mums and dads, meets once a quarter. In addition to supporting the Family Festive Afternoon, it suggests subjects for regular talks on different family issues. These have included elder care, exam stress and drugs and teenagers. Many are very practical, giving tips and advice to parents. The network members share their experiences and provide peer support.
In addition, Berwin Leighton Paisner offers paternity coaching and has a high uptake of dads taking Shared Parental Leave. This is a result of the firm’s commitment to highlighting SPL – which is enhanced at the same level as maternity pay – and regularly communicating information and case studies about it.
All of the firm’s parental support is backed up with flexible working, which has been rolled out internationally.
In 2016, the Best for Dads winner was Lloyds Banking Group. It was praised for providing the same support to dads and mums who take Shared Parental Leave, including enhanced Shared Parental Pay. Dads thinking of taking the leave are talked through the policy and given the opportunity to ask questions prior to taking leave and contacted about their return just before they go back to work. There is also a dedicated helpline for those needing advice.
In 2016 the Group launched the Family Matters colleague network. It provides information and advice for all employees with caring responsibilities, for instance, it runs a series of parenting masterclasses as Webex calls which are well attended by dads. Some are specifically for dads; others are more general.
Lloyds, which is fully committed to agile working, also offers new dad an e-learning module called ‘New Fathers & Partners’ and line managers of new dads are encouraged to take time to work through the module.It aims to give managers the tools to support those preparing to take or returning from paternity leave or SPL. It includes how to manage the impact of their leave through a blend of advice, information, hints and tips and real life case studies.
There is also a knowledge centre for the dads which includes advice and support, information on all aspects of parenting and a range of lunch and learn sessions. In addition, dads who are not employees are able to join in pre- and post-maternity/adoption calls for mums who are employees.