Atkins wins top employer award

5651823170_02c2bfcdfc_oEngineering firm Atkins last night beat stiff competition to be named the Working Mums Top Employer of 2013.

The company also won the award for innovation in flexible working at the London ceremony. The judges said it had come a long way in changing working practices in what had been a traditional workplace.

The London School of Economics and Political Science was recognised for its parenting policies targeting dads and Danone won the award for family support. The Royal Mail Group took the award for career progression – designed to highlight employers who develop women’s leadership potential.

Clare Bishop of taxi firm Addison Lee was awarded the working mum’s champion accolade for her televised initiative allowing staff to bring their babies to the office – a project the judges said had been an “inspiration”.

Working Mums also gave awards to SMEs Mahon Digital Marketing and Brand Learning for their initiatives.

Jo Swinson, minister for employment relations, women and equalities, spoke at the ceremony, saying the shortlisted candidates had provided a series of exemplars that other companies could emulate.“The career progression award is really helpful in showing how you bring forward talent and feed the pipeline to get more women to senior levels.”

She rejected suggestions that incentives should be offered to employers who implement flexible working policies, saying flexible working is “blatantly good business sense”.

Swinson also highlighted changing government legislation on flexible working and shared parental leave. However, she said surveys suggest the take up of shared parental leave will be less than 10% of those eligible. “Research about what men view as the barriers shows they are worried about the impact on their career. This is something women have worried about for some time and we need to address it.”

Swinson added that a consultation on how the system of shared parental leave will work in practice will be published shortly. However it is likely to be based on a notice period of eight weeks. She said the government also aims to reduce the “nervousness” about having a conversation regarding an employee’s intentions. “If you just have the conversation both sides are much happier,” she said. “What we can do with the legislation is encourage some of those conversations to happen earlier.”

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