Tim Soper on dads at Aon

The global company is leading the way when it comes to paternal support. We spoke to one of those leading the way to find out more.

dads at aon


Tim Soper FIA is the Chair of Dads@Aon and co-chair of the Insurance Families Network. But what does that actually mean? And what is Aon doing on the fatherhood front? We caught up with Tim to find out more.

So tell us how it broadly works at Aon when it comes to supporting dads?

At Aon we have what we call business resource groups. They are sponsored at exec level and there’s one covering various different topics. There’s one on mental health, there’s one on LGBTQ+, there’s one on parents and carers. So we are the parents and carers group and within the parents and carers group there are various subgroups for different issues: new parents, parents of special educational needs, children, neurodiversity, adopted, like various different subcategories.

Dads is one of those. Essentially what it is, it’s like a Teams’ space within an office. A big WhatsApp group if you like. [If you’re in it] you get a safe space to speak and you can say anything you like in there about being a dad.

How does that work on a day-to-day basis?

Just by being in it, you also get invited to the various events that we’re doing for parents in general. So it’s a way of leveraging the presence of dads in parents’ events as well because we want dad representation not only on the committee of the Parents and Carers Network but also in the membership. We want to balance out that representation so you get a balanced view.

But what I’m trying to encourage across the offices when people going in is that open conversation, which is asking just like human questions.

How successful have you found that to be?

That is happening certainly in the Bristol office today where I am.

I know every single dad in there and I know that we have chats over the water cooler and while we’re making a coffee all the time about how the kids are and stuff. It’s normalising that dads need to balance work and parenting.

Is it hard to get dads involved?

I think I would describe it like a slow rolling snowball. I always say you can’t force men and dads to talk, but you can do it yourself. I think over time as we’ve grown from about 40 people to over a hundred. You’ve probably got about 20 or something that have actively said something out loud in the group.

But the other 80 are still feeling supported.

How do you fit it in alongside your regular work?

They were looking for a chair of the Dads@Aon subgroup so I took on that last year. What Aon have done in terms of leadership is they’ve allowed me about 120 hours a year, so 10 hours a month to work on supporting parents and carers and dads at Aon.

What do you tend to focus on?

The focus up until when I’d taken it on had been very heavily on the use of shared parental leave. You talk about normalising it, which is obviously the most vital thing.

I’ve got some links in with some extremely senior people in the company now and the recruitment team are very interested in what we’re doing. This shift, it’s not just a coffee morning, a place to speak, it’s actually becoming a broader element of the company as a whole, their attitude, their outlook.

I’d like to think that this sort of stuff is sort of infiltrating across the regions, the offices.

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