New research finds a distinctive lack of transparency from firms when it comes to clearly setting out family-friendly policies.

The majority of companies are failing in a basic measure of inclusion by not being clear about family-friendly policies for prospective employees, research by consultancy ECC outlines.

However, since the pandemic, there have been marginal improvements in the number of employers being forthcoming about these benefits.

In 2021, over a third of companies (37 per cent) now publish policy details including pay and duration of parental leave up from under a quarter (24 per cent) in 2020 and just below a fifth (18 per cent) in 2019.

Even among the two-thirds of companies who chose not to disclose this information, the number who provided no clear details whatsoever on parental benefits has fallen by around half to 26 per cent.

The remaining 37 per cent simply provided generic details, up just 5 per cent in 2020.

The report outlines key business benefits for cultivating diverse and inclusive organisations, including firms with diversity being 70 per cent more likely to capture new markets and enjoy higher growth.

Just over a third (36 per cent) out-perform their competitors when it comes to profitability and well over four in five (87 per cent) make better business decisions and see a more positive impact on business performance.

Ranking businesses on how clear their parental policies are, companies such as Accenture, Deloitte, EY, KPMG and Linklaters ranked highest – indicating “support for working parents runs through this firm’s DNA”.

This includes the company publishing case studies which demonstrate policy in action and the employer tracking pay and career progression of flexible workers.

Companies which were ranked one rung lower, in the fully visible bracket, included BBC, Barclays, Deutsche Bank, Facebook and Goldman Sachs.

This indicates that these firms publish full details of policies that support working parents on its website including terms of pay and duration of leave.

Finally, organisations which were criticised for having no reference to support for working parents included Aldi, Boots, Huawei and Tesla.

To improve the visibility of parental policies, the report makes various recommendations such as:

  • Joining up communications between HR and D&I teams to identify the rationale and narrative for supporting working parents, which can then be communicated on the company website
  • Communicating support as part of your employer brand
  • Demonstrating a supportive company culture which allows employees to actually take up the benefits on offer
  • Using data to back up the optics

Commenting on the research Geraldine Gallacher, CEO of ECC said:

The gap is widening between top employers that actively market their family friendly credentials and those that are still leaving candidates in the dark about pay and benefits for working parents.

In a recruitment market that favours employees, leading employers understand the need to meet employee expectations.

The pandemic has changed parents’ expectations.  Those that found it easier and more enjoyable to manage parenting while working from home don’t want to return to the treadmill, juggling work expectations that don’t accommodate their parental responsibilities.  

Employers that don’t speak directly to the needs of working parents appear tone deaf to calls for workplaces to be more family friendly and are putting themselves at a disadvantage in an increasingly competitive job market.

*This research has been documented in ECC’s report “The Parental Fog Index 2021: Cross-Industry Report”.





Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.