Top employers’ support for working parents is “invisible”

A number of employers including Asos, IBM, Lidl and Facebook are completely ‘invisible’ when it comes to publicising their support for working parents, according to new research.

The Parental Fog Index: Why employers must shout about their support for working parents, ranks the websites of the Times Top 100 Graduate Employers based on how much information they share that could benefit working parents.

It was compiled by the Executive Coaching Consultancy, which supports working parents.
The company ranked employers’ sites on a scale between ‘Beacon’ and ‘Invisible’.

The company looked for examples of visible support such as evidence of awards for being a family-friendly employer, published parental leave policies including pay and duration, flexible working policies and case studies, videos or podcasts of role models showing career progress.

The four employers with Beacon status are Accenture, the Civil Service, PWC and EY. Thirty-one employers’ status was described as ‘Invisible’, 15 ‘Foggy’, 36 ‘Visible’ and 14 ‘Fully Visible’.

Only 18 employers in the 100 would comply with Jo Swinson’s proposed Parental Leave and Pay Arrangements Bill, which was tabled in June 2018.

The proposed Bill would require organisations with 250 or more staff to publish parental leave policies so that prospective employees could compare what different employers offer.

Thirty-six of the 100 employers scrutinised by the Executive Coaching Consultancy had published general statements without specific details. Almost half (46) did not publish any parental policies and 31 made no reference to supporting working parents.

Given that low take-up of shared parental leave has in part been blamed on lack of publicity, it was concerning that over half of the websites surveyed did not include any reference to shared parental leave, said the Executive Coaching Consultancy.

However, 29 were happy to display awards they had won for being family-friendly, despite only a few explaining why they won the award or highlighting any initiatives.

Numerous employers that needed to attract more women – in areas such as STEM, engineering and construction – mainly ranked Invisible or Foggy, according to the research.

Geraldine Gallacher, managing director of the Executive Coaching Consultancy and author of the report, said it wasn’t realistic to expect applicants to ask for this information at interview stage, as “many fear doing so will raise doubts in the interviewer’s mind about their career ambitions”.

“We know that when parents, both men and women, operate in a vacuum of information they tend to find their own solutions,” she added. “They turn down promotions, choose sideways moves or change employer in order to get the flexibility they need to manage work and home responsibilities and that’s a problem for employers serious about managing talent and closing the gender pay gap.”

The launch of the index comes only a few days after a LinkedIn survey found that most workers felt their employers were not open enough about flexible working policies.

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