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Panel sit on a stage before an audience

Prominent figures in the corporate world converged at the Working Dads Employer Awards Case Study Launch following an announcement this month of new flexible working regulation amendments coming into force from April 2024. The regulation allows employees to request flexible working accommodation from the first day of employment, rather than after working an allotted number of days at the company.

The announcement has followed exhaustive policy research and advocacy conducted by academics at Birmingham Business School and the University of York over the past several years. Dr Holly Birkett, from the University of Birmingham, and Dr Sarah Forbes, from the University of York, produced a report published last year report advocating for widespread access to flexible working. The report argues that actions such as encouraging companies with 250+ employees to report on the use of flexible work as part of gender pay gap reporting, changing the onus around flexible work to employers providing a case as to why certain jobs should not be available for flexible work, and offering fathers more non-transferable parental leave can lead to more inclusive and responsible work environment.

Holly Birkett, Senior Lecturer in Organisational Studies at Birmingham Business School said: “As leaders in responsible business, we’re pleased to host the launch of The Working Dads Employer Awards case studies. It is essential that the corporate, educational, and government decision makers prioritise policy decisions that support an inclusive workplace for all.”

This unique occasion featured a recorded introduction from Kemi Badenoch, Minister for Business and Trade, and feature speakers including Mathew Hammond, Strategic International Markets Lead Partner at PwC United Kingdom; Holly Birkett, Co-Director Equal Parenting Project, Birmingham Business School; Sarah Forbes, Co-Director Equal Parenting Project, University of York; Elliot Rae, Founder, Music Football Fatherhood; Sajjad Hassam, Deals - Lead Advisory - Restructuring M&A, PWC; Richard Cartwright, Technology Senior Manager & Midlands I&D Co-Chair, PWC; Devyani Mahajan Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Assistant; Charlee Williams, ER Policy Specialist; Liz Warbrick, EVP & Inclusion Consultant; Nikki Lees, People Director, Culture & Employee Experience, Kate Allum Wellbeing Specialist; Simon Pearce Programme Manager, and more who will share their insights on the importance of supporting fathers in the workplace.

Jenny Thompson, Parents' and Guardians' Network Co-Chair at BMJ Publishing Group Ltd said: ''At BMJ, we believe that true equality depends on our ability to create a workplace where people are supported to be their authentic selves, regardless of their identity or stage in life… an inclusive culture is not only good for the well-being of the employee but crucial for the well-being of an organization.''

The event marked the launch of four key case studies developed from the 2023 awards, highlighting key examples of corporate initiatives and best practice to support working dads and encourage a modern and responsible workplace.

The companies will present their insights to attendees who will be joining in person and remotely, discussing critical topics facing industry leaders today; such as why employers need to support fathers in the workplace, how to persuade senior management teams to invest in and support this agenda, and what can be done for little financial or resource cost to organisations to get started on their journey to support working dads.

The event also featured a panel discussion, during which attendees asked questions about their policy decision-making processes.

Charlee Williams, ER Policy Specialist at EON said: “EON proudly supports the Working Dads Employer Awards as they celebrate the invaluable contributions of working fathers. We firmly believe that acknowledging the significance of dads within the workforce not only highlights their role but also underscores the equal importance of women's careers. … We are enthusiastic about broadening our impact, leveraging our award as a case study to inspire both internal and external audiences.”

Chris Jones, CEO of BMJ said: “We are proud to have received the Leadership and Culture Award from Working Dads, recognising our commitment to creating an inclusive workplace where dads can thrive both personally and professionally. At BMJ, our goal is to create a culture that breaks through and does away with rigid stereotypes and gender roles. … Ultimately, we want to play our part in fostering a cultural shift that promotes fathers' involvement in parenting, as this benefits dads, their partners, their kids and their places of work, too.”

Nikki Lees, Director of Culture & Employee Experience at QBE, said: “We’re delighted to be a Working Dads Award winner and recognised for our equalised paternity leave… These awards are a great opportunity to connect with other organisations leading the way and it’s inspiring to see the work Music Football Fatherhood, the Equal Parenting Project and others are doing to support fathers and promote equality in the workplace.”

Dr Sarah Forbes, Senior Lecturer at the University of York said: “What is great about the Working Dads Employer Awards is that they not only aim to recognise great practice in this important area, but they also aim to encourage and support change to be implemented by other organisations. These case studies created from award winners can be educational in how to better support working dads.”