Beacons of flexible working & family support named has announced the winners of its 10th anniversary Top Employer Awards which celebrate the best in flexible working and support for those with caring responsibilities.

Top Employer Awards, smart working


The top employers for flexible working and supporting employees with caring responsibilities have been named in our sister site’s 10th anniversary Top Employer Awards.

The Awards were presented at a ceremony in London on 5th November where the keynote speaker was Caroline Waters, Deputy Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Vice President of Carers UK and Founder and CEO of CW Consulting Box. She spoke about the need for a life cycle approach to work focusing on particular pinch points where employees might need extra support, including with caring for partners or older relatives.

Winner of the Overall Top Employer Award was Vodafone UK. The judges praised the global scope of Vodafone’s ambitions with regard to diversity and inclusion and the comprehensive range of policies it delivered.

Vodafone UK was chosen from the winners of nine award categories and won the Best for Returners Award, sponsored by enei.

The judges praised Vodafone for its ambitious global approach to returners and its focus on more than just its own business interests. They felt its programme had had a big impact externally as well as internally and that the company had made a huge effort to understand its global workforce and what they wanted.

Other winners included:

Best for Dads Award: Aviva

The judges said that Aviva had been a global leader in the field of equalising parental leave and had the figures to prove that its policies were effective. The policy meant that employees could see Aviva’s commitment to them outside as well as inside the workplace. It was an inspiring example for others.

Innovation in Flexible Working Award, sponsored by QA: Food Standards Agency

The judges said that the Food Standards Agency had taken a focused approach to driving flexibility across the agency and was pushing the boundaries. They praised in particular its ‘give it a go’ concept and its attempt to open people’s minds to new ways of working. It offered a range of different flexible styles that people could sign up to, including local hubs,  with seamless IT support and impressive home enabled statistics.

Now Teach was also highly commended for the innovative impact it had had in its field.

Family Support Award: London Borough of Waltham Forest and Vodafone UK

The judges were very impressed by the joint winners’ innovative approach to family support. They said Vodafone’s work on domestic violence recognised the family in its broader context and its leadership role in the Employers Against Domestic Violence network was ground-breaking and influential. Similarly, the judges said the London Borough of Waltham Forest had demonstrated leadership and foresight in extending leave for parents of premature babies, opening the way for other employers to provide much needed support.

Best for Recruitment and Talent Attraction Award: Arnold Clark

The judges thought that Arnold Clark had taken a considered, strategic approach to improving diversity in a male-dominated industry. They had focused on where they could make the greatest short-term impact, through introducing flexi hours and reducing the six-day-a-week industry norm for sales to five and were using apprenticeships to get more women into the industry.

Career Progression Award, sponsored by AT Kearney Ltd: HP Inc UK

The judges praised HP’s comprehensive work on female progression, which stretched from entry level through to senior leadership, its focus on talent reviews, networking and underrepresented groups, its impressive achievements on female leadership in a male-dominated sector, its emphasis on ongoing development and its role modelling. It was not only an example of good practice, but it had the results to back its approach up.

Working Mums Champion Award: Carolanne Minashi, Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion at UBS

The judges were highly impressed by the work of Caroanne Minashi who was widely recognised for her work on gender equality, for championing Shared Parental Leave and leading the way on untethering Shared Parental Pay, for developing a global gender strategy, promoting maternity coaching and for the fact that her influence spread far beyond her own employer.

SMEs with 1-25 employees: Carty Services

Carty Services was praised for its innovation and the way it adapted to its employees’ changing needs, from apprentices upwards. The judges said it had a very gender inclusive approach and celebrated diversity which developed men and women equally and flexed in keeping with the nature of the industry.

Commended: Convosphere Ltd for its flexibility, maternity support and mixed model of working

SMEs with between 26 and 250 employees: Independent Living Fund Scotland

The judges praised the way the Independent Living Fund Scotland had developed a rounded, life cycle approach for their employees, ranging from the provision of good parental leave policies and unconscious bias training for managers to a menopause policy. Absence levels and turnover were low and customer satisfaction was high in a challenging sector. The organisation was actively recruiting from underrepresented talent groups, performing well and providing a good work life balance to their employees.

The Award judges were: Gillian Nissim, founder of,,uk and; Andy Lake, editor of; Jennifer Liston-Smith, Head of Coaching, Consultancy and Thought Leadership at Bright Horizons Work + Family Solutions; Dave Dunbar, Head of Digital Workspace at the Department of Work and Pensions; and Clare Kelliher, Professor of Work and Organisation at Cranfield School of Management.

The judges and Sheena Mistry-Patel, Talent Acquisition Partner, at Roche, took part in a lively Q & A Panel, which was sponsored by Roche. There was also a networking session where winners and shortlisted entrants were able to swap ideas.

Gillian Nissim, Founder of, says: “This year’s 10th anniversary Top Employers Awards are a chance to look back at how far we have come, and forward to the challenges that remain. In looking back we can see that there has been tremendous progress in terms of uptake of flexible working and in areas such as family support, but there is still a lot to be done to normalise flexible working from recruitment to senior management and to recognise the different pinch points that employees may face at different points in their career path. That is one of the reasons that we have launched our new website, to advocate for best practice in making the most of older workers’ experience and skills. In a world of skills shortages, it is vital for employers to tap into the potential of all their employees. For us it is about the whole work life cycle, about joining the dots and highlighting best practice in the kind of work that we need to ensure jobs work for everyone.”

Speaking about the life cycle approach, Caroline Waters said: “If you believe in and support your people through the stages of their lives they will repay you with engagement and productivity, leading to a broader more diverse talent pool. A recent report by McKinsey demonstrated that greater diversity on the senior executive team corresponded to a significant uplift in business performance! This isn’t just about being nice to people; it also makes good business sense.”

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