Viewpoint | 24 May 2022

Supporting fathers on the journey to gender equality

Vodafone has been honoured at the first Annual Working Dads Employer Awards. Andy Yorston, Vodafone UK’s Legal, Security and Compliance Director and joint Executive Sponsor for the Parents and Carers and Women’s Network reflects on support, old and new, the company provides to employees.

The so-called ‘Great Resignation’ has become one of the most talked-about trends of our post-lockdown ‘new normal’. More and more employees are voluntarily leaving their jobs with every business vying to attract, recruit and retain them.

At the beginning of 2022, our research warned that employers who do not offer sufficient parental leave risk losing top talent. At Vodafone, we’re not willing to take that risk.

That’s why we’re delighted to win not one, but two gongs at the Working Dads Employer Awards for our enhanced parental leave policies. We were awarded the Support for Returning Fathers Award and the Parenting Policies Award at the first ceremony of its kind on 24 May.

The Working Dads Employer Awards is the result of a partnership between the Equal Parenting Project at the University of Birmingham and ‘MusicFootballFatherhood’. It was launched with the aim of celebrating the great work that organisations are doing to support dads in the workplace and to encourage further improvements in this area.

At Vodafone, we proudly offer policies and flexibility that support all parents. To be recognised for this – whether for working dads or in The Times Top 50 Employers for Women list – is an added bonus.

16 weeks

There are now more working-age parents in the workforce than out of it: whether single, married, same-sex, adoptive, young or old. Our Lost Connections report also found that flexible working, enhanced parental policies and access to technology are key to retaining carers in the workforce.

Vodafone’s paternity leave policy now offers employees – regardless of gender, sexual orientation or length of service – 16 weeks of fully paid leave.

We have also recently adapted our policies to ensure support for parents who experience premature birth of a child, offering flexibility for when their leave starts. And in the event of pregnancy loss, we’re offering two weeks paid leave for a loss experienced before 24 weeks.

Combined with flexible ways of working which blend hybrid, home-based, or site-based work depending on the role, we intend to give our people the best possible chance of balancing their career with responsibilities at home.

These flexible ways of working have other benefits. The shift to home-based working has already helped to widen the pool of talent joining our customer service teams, as well as improving team performance.

So when it comes to ‘The Great Resignation’, we know that things change and people move on. But our responsibility is to make sure that every employee is supported and nurtured while they’re with us. And we want them to speak highly of that experience even after they go.

We are proud to be commended for this work on our Inclusion for All agenda, but we’re taking it as a sign to keep going, keep progressing, and keep on doing what’s right for parents and carers in the workforce.

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