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Imperial College London, Winner 2017, The Cityparents Best for all stages of Fatherhood Award

  • Case studies and high-level role models demonstrate support for fathers
  • Post-leave academic fellowship extended to fathers
  • Shared parental leave pay enhanced to match maternity pay

Imperial is enacting cultural change in a traditionally male-dominated academic institution. Initiatives aim to break down traditional assumptions around parenthood and ensure fathers can take an equal role.

At Imperial change is led from the top. Provost James Stirling champions all family friendly initiatives including those relating to fathers. He has described his own experience as a father and his personal challenges around work-life balance throughout his career, as well as highlighting and championing the support and resources on offer at Imperial.

Reducing stigma and promoting role models for working fathers is important. For example, the College has published interviews with male leaders on how flexible working has helped them.

Since shared parental leave was launched in April 2015, 30 fathers have taken it, and pay is matched with maternity provision. The College has extended the Elsie Widdowson Fellowship to fathers so that they can take time out to concentrate on their research on their return from shared parental leave.

In addition, new fathers’ workshops and opportunities to meet other Imperial fathers are offered, as well as a group for informal networking and Parents’ Network – a website for Imperial parents. A number of fathers have also trained as parent mentors.

Fathers report positive experiences – workshops have a 95 per cent satisfaction rate. The College also has a high level of informal flexible working, with 84 per cent of male staff saying they are able to work flexibly to fulfil their role.

Imperial has launched an online training course for managers of staff going on family friendly leave. It is piloting a workshop for managers on supporting flexible working, which will be rolled out college-wide.

In 2016, 85 per cent of fathers felt supported, compared to 79 per cent in 2013, and 52 per cent of fathers had extended their paternity leave using paid/unpaid leave (39 per cent  in 2013). Crucially, 19 per cent of fathers extended their paternity leave by more than a month – up from 3 per cent in 2013.

“Hearing other dads’ experiences helped me realise it isn’t just me.”

New Fathers Workshop delegate