Nadeem Ahmad is the founder of Templeton and Partners, a diverse tech recruitment agency.
All companies want to be seen as inclusive and welcoming to potential employees (and customers!), so distinguishing the truly great employers from those who are simply paying lip service can be challenging. Templeton’s diverse recruitment team reveal how to spot a company that will truly value you as a person and parent, as well as a worker.
Adjectives can reveal everything you need to know about a business, and the reality that the chosen candidate will be walking into. Phrases like ‘fast-paced’, ‘ambitious’ and ‘assertive’ are known to deter women from applying, which working fathers can also take to mean a company resistant to the idea of work/life balance and prioritising family over professional performance.
Overly long job adverts with extensive bullet points of duties suggest either that the employee will be spread too thinly across too many tasks or that the manager has not properly defined the role – either are warning signs indicating poor work/life balance, as well as a lack of respect for applicants reading the job ad which will likely translate into the working experience. Just as important is what the job ad doesn’t say.
Does the company refrain from mentioning career development opportunities, training and upskilling programmes, and management support, in addition to salary and benefits? A company that is upfront about its investment in employees is demonstrating that they value the contribution of every individual and are prepared to support that individual in multiple different ways, connoting a positive respect for that individual’s personal and professional needs.
Deeds Not Words
It’s all too easy to slap on a rainbow and change logo colours during Pride Month, but much more time-consuming and costly to support a cause with actions. What does a company actually do to foster an inclusive workplace, which includes supporting working fathers?
Ask your interviewer what they most value about working at the company and what they think the company could improve: again pay attention to what your interviewer doesn’t mention.
Ask them to explain the culture in their own words and ask for real-life examples of how the organisation has supported working parents – most companies will have measures in place for maternity and new mothers as these are legal requirements, but truly inclusive companies know gender equality also means supporting working fathers, and they’ll be able to demonstrate how they proactively support both working mums and dads.
The best way to find out what it’s really like to work at a company is to hear from people who already work there.
Ask around your network to see whether your contacts have connections inside the company you’re thinking of joining, and Google anonymous (and therefore honest) reviews, particularly the working culture and benefits sections. LinkedIn is becoming an increasingly authentic window into our lives inside and outside of work, meaning personal stories can show an employer’s true values and priorities.
Check out the company’s employees on social media: do they talk positively and specifically about the company’s culture, management, support and benefits? Are their LinkedIn feeds full of photos showing company nights out and parties, or sharing stories of positive mental health, work/life balance and how their employer supported them through personal struggles?
If corporate ‘flexibility’ isn’t actually flexible, it won’t work for the company or its employees, for working parents and for everyone.
Companies should be open about their flexibility on their website and social media channels, as well as their job adverts. Instead of taking ‘flexible working’ at face value from a job description or phone interview, look for and ask about specifics that include hybrid and remote working, adaptable start and finish hours, part-time and job-sharing options, and choice for building your schedule.
Employers that specifically mention fathers in their benefits package, including extended paternity leave, childcare vouchers for employees of all genders and quality on-site nurseries, are much further ahead in their inclusivity journey than other organisations.