ISBE at the launch of the Fathers in the Workplace toolkit

Rob Edwards
Head of Business Development & Marketing

The Institute was proud to be invited to join the discussion panel at the launch of the Equal Parenting Project’s Fathers in the Workplace Toolkit at Westminster this week.

Based on three years’ research around the uptake and use of Shared Parental Leave, led by Dr Holly Birkett and Dr Sarah Forbes at the University of Birmingham, the toolkit provides specific recommendations and practical solutions to help organisations be more inclusive of fathers. It aims to improve access to information and support for fathers and parents, and to break down barriers in order to encourage more fathers to take on childcare, thus improving outcomes for families and children, and driving gender equality.

Hosted by Rt Hon Maria Miller MP, former Chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee, the launch attracted around 80 delegates from the worlds of policy, business (SME and multinational), academia and human resources.

The toolkit itself provides freely accessible guidance on policy, communications and organisational culture with a group of modules specifically aimed at time-constrained small businesses. Recommendations like Parenting Passports, policy templates and communications support for parenting groups are initiatives that can be implemented comparatively quickly and without much cost.

Amongst the other speakers, Anthony Fitzpatrick spoke about Aviva’s successful implementation of a Shared Parental Leave programme that has seen a change in culture and significant increase in take-up of SPL amongst employees. He also noted that more prospective employees are enquiring about the company’s family and work/life balance policies at interview.

Anna Purchas, Head of People at KPMG UK, talked about the importance of accessible policies, saying ‘We need a culture and role models who are living the policies to bring them to life. We encourage fathers – especially those at senior levels – not to be quiet parents’.

Discussion in the subsequent panel session, at which I represented ISBE, dealt with the challenges of changing organisational culture; whether families could afford to take SPL and how Government needs to respond; and how SMEs in particular can affect change with comparatively limited resources.

Maria Miller noted that a review of SPL is imminent so the toolkit launch and the discussions during the session were timely.

It is the Institute’s purpose to enable excellence in small business and entrepreneurship across our research, policy, practice and learning communities. Events like the toolkit launch feel like a tangible expression of this purpose.

We are always keen to share similar stories from the ISBE network so please get in touch at

Further information about the Fathers in the Workplace toolkit is available at


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