Best Practice Report 2022 launched has launched this year’s Best Practice Report as entries open for the 2023 Top Employer Awards. We focus here on female-dominated sectors which have been badly affected by Covid, from hospitality to retail.

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Request a copy of the Best Practice Report* has launched its 2022 Best Practice Report, which highlights employer best practice in everything from flexible working and family support to career progression for women.

McDonald’s who won the Best for career progression for women award also scooped the overall award.  The award is an important one, given concerns about how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected industries such as hospitality which tend to be female-dominated and how the additional caring responsibilities it has brought particularly for women have affected them at work.

McDonald’s talks to about how it has boosted the number of women at all levels of the company.  Last year’s gender pay audit figures showed McDonald’s had achieved a zero percent gender pay gap across restaurants and head office. Of its 140K+ employees, 49.5% were male at the end of 2021 and 50.5% were female. The move towards gender balance is part of a major push by McDonald’s on women’s career development since 2005 when just 5% of senior leaders were female. That has included active membership of Inclusive Employers and the Business in the community Gender Campaign. By 2018 a third of the senior leadership team were women and the company set a 45% target in late 2020 which it exceeded by September 2021. Its goal now is to maintain its 50/50 gender balance by ensuring gender parity at all levels of the talent pipeline.

McDonald’s leadership programmes have targetted underrepresented groups, including women and ethnic minorities in order to mainain momentum. Alex Rowe, a Learning and Development Officer at the company, speaks about her experience on the Ethnic Future Leaders programme which McDonald’s sponsors. She says: “I can’t understate the impact that the programme has had on me, both personally and professionally. Before taking part in the programme, I’d never had the courage to tell my story and openly speak about the challenges I face being part of an underrepresented group. I learned a lot through the connections I made with business leaders from across business. I particularly valued the chance to partner up with an executive-level mentee as part of the programme’s reverse mentoring scheme.”

Other awards included one for Best for Family Support, won by John Lewis Partnership.  Again JLP is in a sector that is female-dominated – retail – and was badly affected by Covid.

In the report, representatives speak about the company’s equal parental leave, the first in the retail sector, and its reproductive health policies as well as its flexible first approach. Rebecca Candy, Change Manager and Co-Chair of JLP’s Working Parents Network, says: “We are really serious about being the most inclusive workplace and in order to be inclusive we need to address the gender pay gap and one part of that is the disparity in parental leave for co-parents. Equal parental leave will free mums to come back and allow dads to bond with their children and set family life differently from the outset. It’s not just about money and benefits, but the value we attach to being serious about inclusion.”

Best practice

The Best Practice Report includes interviews with all the winners of this year’s Top Employer Awards and individual employee case studies. The employers represented span a number of different sectors, including construction and technology. In addition to McDonald’s and JLP,  they include the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, Tech Returners, Roche, QA and Aggregate Industries.

The Financial Services Compensation Scheme [FSCS] focuses on its work on Diversity and Inclusion. Operational analyst Alethea Beharie-Campbell, who has taken part in the company’s Black Talent sponsorship programme and has worked on a project to increase young people from minority backgrounds’ understanding of financial issues,  says she found the culture at FSCS refreshing and says of a session following George Floyd’s murder: “It felt like a safe place. It’s the first time in my professional career that I have felt that, where I have felt that I could express myself and be listened to and not fear I would be misjudged.”

Tech Returners outlines how it helps women who have taken a career break from the tech industry return. Shahana Khundmir, now a Software Developer with The Telegraph, went on the programme. Shahana, who had a nearly 20-year career break, says: “I loved my time on the programme. It was a supportive environment that gave me the insight I needed to feel more comfortable moving forward. Recruitment coaching paired with technical upskilling provided the right balance for me to excel. And I simply loved coding again, talking tech with colleagues and learning.” Tech Returners also won the SME award and spoke about its focus on training and hybrid working, including its use of asynchronous communications.

Roche talks about its How we roll programme which ensures a consistent approach to flexibility across the organisation and also about its location agnostic approach, which enables it to recruit people from any part of the UK. How we roll was the result of extensive consultation and a successful pilot. “We wanted to expand people’s horizons and see that flexible working works both ways and is about more than working from home,” says Sam Eustace-Smith, Employee Experience Partner at Roche. “We wanted to build people’s trust and ensure that flexible working was guilt-free. We knew we had a good culture, but we wanted to look at what else we needed to do and what was missing.”

QA speaks about the work it does to recruit and retain older workers. Jo Saunders, a senior delivery manager, speaks of her work on QA’s menopause policy and an education programme for menopause mentors. She says the experience of talking to others about the menopause has helped calm the anxiety she had about the perimenopause and has given her new energy. “QA has always been very supportive and inclusive, which is why I have been here for 16 years, but this has given me a way to help others and to make it an even better place to work,” she says.

And Aggregate Industries speaks in depth about how it has tackled the high suicide rate in the industry and how it aims to reach all workers to offer mental health support. For instance, the company launched a podcast with an occupational health expert so that those who are on site can listen to it while working. Aggregate has also been putting tri-boards on lamp posts on operational sites with posters or QR codes which workers can scan to get information about mental health.

The Best Practice Report aims to show what the most progressive are doing, how they are doing it and what the impact is

Top Employer Awards 2023

The aim of the Report, sponsored by McDonald’s, and the Top Employer Awards is to spread employer best practice. The launch of the Report coincides with the opening of entries to the 2023 Top Employer Awards.

This year’s Awards, sponsored by NHS Professionals, will be held in person on 7th February 2023. The judges are: Gillian Nissim, founder of WM People;* Andy Lake, editor of; Jennifer Liston-Smith, Head of Thought Leadership at Bright Horizons Work + Family Solutions;  Dave Dunbar, Head of Digital Workspace at the Department for Work and Pensions; Clare Kelliher, Professor of Work and Organisation at Cranfield School of Management; and new judge Salma Shah, Founder of Mastering Your Power Coach Training.

The categories are Best for Flexible Working, Best for Returners, Best for Mental Health, Best for Dads, Best for Family Support, Best for SMEs, Best for Diversity & Inclusion, Best for Older Workers and Best for Career Progression for Women.

The ceremony which will take place in London will include a keynote speech from Jane Portas, Co-founder of Insuring Women’s Futures.  The deadline for entries is 28th October 2022.

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