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National Grid, Finalist 2014, The Cityfathers Best for All Stages of Fatherhood Award

Around three-quarters of National Grid’s workforce are male, and in each of the last three years, there have been 180 new fathers. With the role of fatherhood continuing to change and evolve, National Grid feels it’s important that, as a business, it is able to evolve too. Just as fathers have the desire to take a greater and more active role in the parenting of their children, so National Grid believes that supporting, encouraging and helping its fathers to make this possible will bring much higher levels of engagement from them. Aware of the difficulties, stress, tiredness and challenges that becoming a new father can bring, their aim is to change the attitude within the business from ‘man up’ to one of more support, awareness and understanding.

National Grid has put in place a programme to do three things for fathers: educate them on legislation and HR policies; provide them and their managers with support and tools; and create a culture on ongoing support throughout the journey of fatherhood. To deliver these goals, National Grid has been running workshops, webinars and mentor development workshops, initially for its Midlands-based fathers. The programme is designed to be scalable and to be rolled out more widely in the UK and also globally. Crucial to the success of the programme has been the recruitment of senior managers to help with engagement and embedding across all divisions of the business. With a geographically spread workforce, it has been important to secure local managerial support too.

A fathers-only web portal has been created on the company intranet, and here fathers can find information on webinars and workshops, as well as other relevant information. As a result of these activities, National Grid expects to see data in their annual survey showing an increase in flexible working requests and acceptances for men, and a decrease in absenteeism in new fathers over the last five years.

Fathers are also well supported by policy. This includes paid time off for antenatal care, enhanced paternity leave and pay, provisions for parental leave, a right to request flexible working arrangements for all employees, enhanced parental breaks (up to 12 months, unpaid) and childcare breaks (7 weeks fixed duration, unpaid).