Shortlist announced for Top Employer Awards 2021

We have announced the shortlist for our 2021 Top Employer Awards based on best practice in relation to this year’s challenges relating to flexible working, family support, mental health, employee engagement, line management and diversity and inclusion.

Top Employer Awards, smart working


Twenty-two employers have been shortlisted for our Top Employer Awards which highlight organisations that have gone above and beyond in their response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

This year’s Top Employer Awards ceremony will celebrate the immense work of HR teams up and down the country as they have battled to adapt to fast-changing circumstances and keep their people’s well being at the centre of operations.

The awards have been running annually for over 10 years and  this year the categories, sponsored by MTR Elizabeth Line, have been adapted to reflect the extraordinary events of the last year. There are six categories: Best for Mental Health, Best for Line Manager Support, Best for Flexible Working, Best for Family Support, Best for Employee Engagement and Best for Diversity and Inclusion. There will also be an Overall Top Employer Award awarded based on the winners of all the other categories.

The winners will be announced at an online ceremony on 26th January, which will include a Q & A with a panel of experts on embedding diversity and inclusion, sponsored by Roche. Experts include Rob Hopkin, co-founder of Axis, Diana Parkes, founder of Women’s Sat Nav to Success, diversity and inclusion expert Salma Shah and consultant Dr Suzanne Doyle-Morris.

The shortlisted companies are:

Best for mental health

Sponsored by Kearney

This award celebrates employers who have been exemplary in the way they have sought to protect their employees mental health during the coronavirus pandemic.

Shortlisted:  WH Smith, SMS plc, Sky Betting and Gaming, Pitney Bowes, Independent Living Fund Scotland, McDonald’s Restaurants Ltd, Fidelity, Capgemini UK and Capco.

Best for Line Manager Support

Sponsored by Standard Chartered Bank

This award is for employers who demonstrate initiatives aimed at supporting and equipping line managers to deal with these unprecedented times.

Shortlisted: Maritime and Coastguard Agency and UBS

Best for Flexible Working

This award is for employers who show how they have used flexible working to respond to the challenges created by the pandemic, how an existing flexible culture has helped them respond to the crisis and/or any long-term impact on their working practices.

Shortlisted: UBS, Sky Betting and Gaming, Sensee, Pitney Bowes and PwC

Best for Family Support

Sponsored by McDonald’s Restaurants Ltd

This award is for employers who demonstrate initiatives aimed at helping parents and carers at work during and following lockdown.

Shortlisted: Teach First, PwC, Independent Living Fund Scotland and Atos

Best for Employee Engagement

This award is for employers who demonstrate initiatives that have promoted engagement between employer and employee.

Shortlisted: SLR Consulting, Sky Betting and Gaming, PwC, Pitney Bowes, NSPCC, McDonald’s Restaurants Ltd, Independent Living Fund Scotland and Burns Sheehan

Best for Diversity and Inclusion

Sponsored by PwC

This award is for organisations who demonstrate actions taken to ensure equality of opportunity for all

Shortlisted:  Vodafone UK, UBS, Network Rail, HP, IBM and Atos

Gillian Nissim, Founder of, says: “This has been the most challenging of years for HR and yet many teams have truly stepped up to the plate. We want to celebrate those achievements and learn from the best. We have been overwhelmed by the quality of entries to this year’s Awards. Shortlisting has been very difficult as many employers have demonstrated a deep commitment to embedding diversity and inclusion, to ensuring the well being of their people and to building resilient organisations. Those shortlisted above have had that little bit extra in terms of standout policies and practices and we look forward to sharing that with other employers in our Best Practice Report next year. We hope that the high standards shown this year and the increased focus on diversity and inclusion in the aftermath of Black Lives Matter movement and greater awareness of the pressures on women will continue to drive innovation and progress so that everyone is able to fulfill their potential at work.”

A spokesman from MTR Elizabeth line said: “MTR Elizabeth line has enjoyed a strong relationship with Working Mums since 2015.  We are committed to opening up opportunities for under-represented groups in the community and challenging stereotypes regarding career prospects for women in the rail industry. The Top Employer Awards are a strong fit with our own values and as a sponsor, we wish to reflect the important role employers play in actively seeking ways to support their employees.”

The Awards will be judged by an expert panel made up of Gillian Nissim, founder of; Andy Lake, editor of; Jennifer Liston-Smith, Director/Head of Coaching and Consultancy at My Family Care; 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.

*A copy of the Best Practice Report based on the 2020 Top Employer Awards is available here.

If you would like to take part in the Diversity Q&A following the awards event on 26th January 2021, please complete the form below. Attendee space is limited so we will be in touch to confirm your space.

Top Employer Awards Q&A 2021

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