announces winners of 2018 Top Employer Awards has announced the winners of its ninth annual Top Employer Awards, celebrating the leading companies in gender diversity and flexible working. The Awards were presented at a ceremony in London on 6th November where the keynote speaker was Gavin Shuker MP. He spoke about the Women and Equalities Committee’s work on dads.

Top Employer Awards 2019


Winner of the Overall Top Employer Award was FDM Group. The judges praised FDM Group for a strong performance in two highly competitive categories – career progression and returners. They commented on the ambitious nature of its returner programme and its impressive statistics on female representation at senior levels. They also emphasised how it was influencing the technology sector more broadly with its progressive policies and awards and its work with its clients through its innovative business model.

This year’s Awards saw a new award, Best for Returners, sponsored by the Government Equalities Office. The award recognises the huge progress made in raising awareness of an often overlooked talent pool. The winner was UBS.

The judges were impressed at how UBS treated returnees as equals who were hired alongside other candidates. They said the programme was well designed, had identified biases and ensured the interview process took them into account and retention levels were very high.

The judges also commended Lloyds Banking Group for the way it had thought through the whole process of returning from Webex advice on interview techniques to the provision of different forms of support.

Awards were presented for six other categories:

Career Progression Award

The Top Employer Award for Career Progression, sponsored by A.T. Kearney Ltd, went to FDM Group for its comprehensive approach to women’s career progression, starting from outreach and breakfast events for its rising stars to its extensive work with returners. It had achieved a 0% gender pay gap and 50% of its senior team were women. The judges said it was a model for others in a sector which has a lot of challenges around career progression for women.

Talent Attraction Award

The Top Employer Award for Talent Attraction, sponsored by CA Technologies, went to Roche. The judges highlighted how diversity and inclusion was woven into Roche’s culture. Roche questioned the language used in job adverts, did a lot of outreach work with different communities, from LGBTQ+ to candidates with disabilities, and explored different talent pools, including neurodiversity. Hiring managers were trained in unconscious bias and listening skills. The judges felt Roche was reaching out in a very determined way to different communities.

Family Support Award

Winner of the Top Employer Award for Family Support, sponsored by Virgin Atlantic, was Morgan Sindall Construction and Infrastructure. It was recognised for its comprehensive offering for families which covered the whole life cycle – from outreach work in schools to a flexible returner programme and the offer of a phased retirement on full salary. The judges said it was a well rounded, thoughtful and thorough approach to family support.

Innovation In Flexible Working

The Top Employer Award for Innovation in Flexible Working, sponsored by McDonald’s, went to Civil Service Human Resources for its work promoting job shares across the civil service which had acquired a new energy with the publication of the gender pay audits. The judges said the Civil Service Human Resources was continuing to push the agenda forwards in ways that were transferable to other employers and was a key influencer on the private sector through sharing its experience.

SME Award

The Top Employer Award for SMEs, sponsored by L&Q, was awarded to Radioactive PR for having the courage to trial a four-day week on full pay in a sector which is known for its long hours. By taking a different approach and recognising the essential flexibility of the industry the judges felt it provided a role model for other employers seeking to question received practice. The company also showed an impressive commitment to developing its staff and a recognition of the mental health issues affecting the industry.

Working Mums Champion Award

The Working Mums Champion Award, sponsored by M&G, went to Julianne Miles from Women Returners. The judges were highly impressed by the energy and commitment Julianne has brought to her work for returners and by the huge influence she had had on practice and policy towards returners generally, paving the way for the kind of initiatives we see flourishing now. They felt she had helped to change the narrative for those who struggle to get back to work after taking a career break.

The Award judges were: 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.

The judges and Sharon Hague, Senior Vice President of Pearson, took part in a lively Q & A Panel, which was sponsored by Pearson. There was also a networking session where winners and shortlisted entrants were able to swap ideas.

Gillian Nissim, Founder of, says: “The Top Employers Awards are a chance to celebrate best practice. Every year the Awards evolve in what is a fast-moving area and this year we are delighted to have a new category on returner initiatives. Due to the amazing work of pioneers such as Women Returners these initiatives have been growing fast and our shortlisted candidates show the breadth of what is now on offer.

“ believes that sharing best practice is vital in the move to create organisations which are more diverse at all levels and which ensure that all the potential within them is harnessed and developed. Research shows that diversity makes business sense. At a time of skills shortage, rather than continue to lose or waste talent, organisations must be supported to ensure they create a culture where everyone can thrive.”

*A copy of the Best Practice Report based on the 2018 Top Employer Awards is available here. The Best Practice Report 2019 will be out in March.

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