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Ford, Commended 2013, The National Grid Best for all Stages of Fatherhood Award

Sector: Engineering/Manufacturing
Location: UK
Employees: 11,200

Ford has taken an interesting approach to supporting fathers in the workplace, providing not only good policies and opportunities for fathers to combine work and family life, but also taking a wider view of what it means to be a father through work that it does within the local community. This shows a welcome recognition that supporting fathers goes beyond just policy provision, and that by encouraging employees who are fathers to be involved outside of the workplace will actually help them feel more confident about using support within work.

For example, Ford has delivered a number of reading support programmes, particularly focused on fathers. These include literacy programmes for employees, encouraging them to improve their own reading skills to enable them to better support their own children’s education and enjoy sharing books with their children. Additionally, Ford has run reading programmes in primary schools in the local community of their Dagenham operations. Some of these schools are in areas of particular deprivation where many children are from single parent families. Typically these single parents are mothers. It has been particularly beneficial for these children to see male role models and spend time sharing books and interacting with male employees.

Ford provides in-house support for expectant and new fathers that concentrates on things like statutory entitlement, company policy and provision, flexible working policy, sources of advice and support and information about the childcare voucher scheme. The sessions also cover maternity rights so fathers are able to understand the entitlements that their partners have.

Ford provides on-site childcare on a full-, part-time and emergency basis. The nursery is run by an external provider, but Ford paid for the building and funds the associated infrastructure and services costs. The on-site nursery at the engineering centre provides an opportunity for dads in particular:  collection and drop offs are split approximately 50/50 between mothers and fathers (typically in other nursery settings this is 80/20). The nursery also offers ‘stay and play’ sessions for parents and special Father’s Day activities to further encourage engagement of fathers.

Ford also has an internal employee resource group, the Ford Parents Network, co-chaired by a father. The network is a group of volunteers of parents and guardians at all levels in the organisation, with an Executive Sponsor at Board level. The stated objectives are to provide a support network for working parents, help parents balance work and home and provide awareness of the needs of working parents. The network has run a number of events and initiatives for the benefit of working parents, including first aid courses, information session on Starting School, a healthy eating campaign in partnership with Change 4 Life, an in-car safety event and events to support Fathers’ Story Week.