Parental fog continues in 2020 – report

This year’s ‘Parental fog’ report finds some progress in 2020 but firms still have a long way to go in publicising pay and benefits for parents

Paternity Leave and flexible working opportunities


A landmark league table that measures how top employers support parents has shown small progress in 2020.

The ‘Parental Fog’ report from the Executive Coaching Consultancy (ECC) compares which companies are up front about their policies around pay and leave for dads and mums.

More firms offer details of their paternity and maternity leave policies and providing support to parents according to this year’s research.

However the majority of top employers surveyed still leave candidates in the dark about pay and benefits for working parents. The report authors claim those firms will be disadvantaged when it comes to attracting the top talent from millennial jobseekers who want to balance work and family.


It’s the second year ECC has benchmarked the Times Top 100 Graduate Employers. They compare transparency around parental policies as published on the companies’ websites.

Unilever were this year’s big winners jumping into the top bracket of ‘beacon’ firms. That category increased from a club of just four companies in 2019 to nine this year. PwC, EY and the civil service remain among the best performing companies. They’ve been joined by more big accounting firms in Deloitte, Grant Thornton and KPMG plus Johnson and Johnson and Santander all of whom moved up from the ‘fully visible’ category. While Unilever leapt two divisions from ‘visible’ to ‘beacon’.

The research showed a small increase in the number of organisations that publish detailed policy details, including pay and duration of parental leave and flexible working arrangements, from 18% in 2019 to 24% in 2020. The total number that publish generic (32%) or no details (44%) of parental benefits decreased slightly to 76% in 2020 from 82% in 2019.


The study, which placed employers into five categories of visibility, rated 9% of employers in its top ‘beacon’ group up from 4% last year. In addition to publishing full details of parental policies, these employers actively market their support to working parents as core to their employer brand.

Of the employers ranked “Visible” (32%), “Foggy” (18%), and “Invisible” (26%), all would rise to “Fully Visible” – the minimum measure for transparency around arrangements for working parents –  with one simple change to their websites: the addition of parental policies, including terms of pay and duration.

A total of 21 companies improved their ranking year-on-year. 12 organisations fell in their ranking showing that while transparency for parental benefits is improving, progress is slow.


Geraldine Gallacher, CEO of ECC said: “Even before the Coronavirus pandemic hit, leading employers understood that a key battle ground in attracting the best talent was the perceived family-friendliness of their organisation.

“By choosing to be completely transparent about parental pay and benefits at the start of the recruitment journey, the ‘beacon’ organisations identified in our report are clearly demonstrating that they are a place where people can progress their careers after starting a family.

“With working and childcare arrangements in flux for the foreseeable future, the quality and detail of information on parental benefits will be an increasingly critical tool in attracting and retaining the right talent to thrive and compete.

“For those who are less transparent, the report provides a call to action to improve the visibility of basic information around pay and benefits or to risk missing out on talent as candidates may shy away from a recruitment process where questions about parental benefits might call into question commitment to their career.”

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