launches its Top Employer Awards 2014 launches its fifth annual Top Employer Awards which celebrate best practice in smart working and advancing women in the workplace this week to mark International Women’s Day.

The Awards, sponsored by McDonald’s Restaurants, recognise employers both big and small who have embraced the business benefits of flexible working and have been proactive in seeking to recruit and retain talented staff, particularly working parents who want to combine successful careers with being a parent. They will be announced at a ceremony in Central London in November which includes a networking session, sponsored by Unilever, and an in-depth Q & A session with leading experts in diversity and flexible working, sponsored by BAE Systems.

This year there are seven categories open to employers, one of which is also open to employees. An Overall Top Employer is chosen from the winners of the other categories. The categories include Best for Dads in recognition of the links between women’s career progression and greater equality in the home. The issue of how to reach dads and support them in working more flexibly was one of the big debate points at last year’s Awards and organisations are increasingly looking at these issues in light of policy changes, such as the introduction of shared parental leave next year. Other awards include Talent Attraction which aims to share good practice on reaching out to a more diverse workforce, for instance, through advertising flexible roles.

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The full line-up of Award categories is:

– Innovation in Flexible Working Award, sponsored by last year’s Overall Top Employer Atkins

– Career Progression Award, sponsored by last year’s winner the Royal Mail Group

– SME Award [split into sections for companies with under 25 and under 250 employees]

– Best for Dads Award, sponsored by IG Group

– Talent Attraction Award

– Family Support Award

– Working Mums Champion Award

Gillian Nissim, Founder of, says: “Every year we are inspired by the entries which we receive from a wide range of employers, whether small start-ups or large corporates. There is a real momentum building around flexible working with more and more employers recognising the business benefits and an increasing focus on the advantages of a diverse workforce, not just at boardroom level but at every level.”

A Best Practice Report highlighting last year’s winners’ policies and practices, with individual case studies and an overview of developments in diversity and flexible working, will be published in the Spring.

The Awards will be judged by an expert panel made up of Gillian Nissim, founder of, Jennifer Liston-Smith, Director, Head of Coaching & Consultancy at My Family Care, Dave Dunbar, head of BT Flexible Working Services and Professor Clare Kelliher of Cranfield School of Management. The closing date for entries is 18th July. Click here to find out more.

Picture: Jo Swinson speaking at last year’s Awards.

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