Twenty nine of the most progressive employers and their representatives have been shortlisted for this year’s Top Employer Awards.

The employers have been shortlisted across eight categories ranging from SMEs to Family Support and Best for Dads. The Awards will be announced at a ceremony at London’s Soho Hotel on 3rd November which will involve a keynote address by John Edmonds, former president of the TUC, and gender expert Eva Tutchell, authors of the book Man Made, Why So Few Women Are in Positions of Power, as well as networking sessions and a Q & A with a panel of experts.

The ceremony is the sixth annual Top Employer Awards which celebrate companies who are leading the field in developing innovative ways of smart working suited to today’s world.

The Awards recognise employers of all kinds who are progressive in their flexible working practices and proactive in seeking to retain talented staff, particularly working parents who want to combine successful careers with being a parent.

In this year’s shortlist there is a strong showing for technology firms, which are often seen as male-dominated, as well as law firms, which have been known for a long hours culture.

The shortlisted companies are:

Category: SME Award (split into sections for companies with up to 25 employees, and up to 250 employees), sponsored by Johnson Fleming

For small companies who demonstrate a real commitment to work life balance practices which specifically help working parents, such as flexible working, support on return to work from maternity leave and career development for women.

SME 1-25

Shortlisted: Carty Services, Parental Choice Ltd, Cariad Marketing, Take Note Ltd and Hireserve Ltd.

SME 26-250

Shortlisted: Expert Market, iCrossing, Ella’s Kitchen

Innovation in Flexible Working

To be eligible employers needed to demonstrate specific policies and practices related to flexible working which are truly innovative and break new ground, whether that be in a particular industry or in general.

Shortlisted: Cafcass, A.T. Kearney Ltd, LawBite, Sensée Ltd, Ministry of Justice, Civil Service Resourcing, Dell, Vodafone, DLA Piper

Best for Dads, sponsored by IG Group

For organisations showing specific policies targeting dads, such as inclusive parenting networks, publications and outreach targeted around dads’ rights, shared parenting initiatives and innovative policies on parental and paternity leave.

Shortlisted: The London School of Economics and Political Science, Approved Index, DLA Piper

Family Support

For organisations who demonstrated policies and practices which aim to make it easier to balance work and family life.

Shortlisted: Carty Services, WHSmith Retail Holdings Limited, Centrica plc, The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and the Roslin Institute (University of Edinburgh), Ministry of Justice, Hireserve Ltd, Approved Index, KPMG

Talent Attraction, sponsored by CA Technologies

For organisations who demonstrate that their recruitment process openly promotes flexible working.

Shortlisted: Ministry of Justice, Barclays, Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Career progression, sponsored by A.T. Kearney Ltd

To be eligible employers should demonstrate initiatives aimed at developing women’s leadership potential, including women’s networks, mentoring initiatives and return to work programmes.

Shortlisted: London School of Economics and Political Science, Macquarie Group, London & Quadrant, Nielsen, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, SThree PLC

Working Mums Champion

This Award is for stand-out individuals whose efforts have made a big difference to working mums in their workplace.

Shortlisted: Nicola Dean, Urenco UK Limited; Danielle Ayres, Gorvins Solicitors; Karen Ovenden, Hireserve Ltd; Fiona Roche, Lloyds Banking Group; Natasha Clarke, SThree PLC; Katerina Gould, Women Returners.

An overall Top Employer will be chosen from the winners of each category.

Gillian Nissim, Founder of, says: “The standard of entries this year is exceptionally high as is the breadth of sectors represented, from law and banking to technology and social services. We are particularly interested to see the strong showing from technology and law, sectors which have been regarded as challenging for women wishing to climb the career ladder. The aim of these Awards and our Best Practice Report which features our winners is to spread the word about the innovative practices these businesses employ so that others can be inspired by them. These employers fully understand the business case for recruiting and retaining talented female staff and go out of their way to back that up with action.”

The Awards will be judged by an expert panel made up of Gillian Nissim, founder of; Andy Lake, editor of; Jennifer Liston-Smith, Director of Coaching & Consultancy at My Family Care; Dave Dunbar, Head of Digital Workplace at Nationwide Building Society; and Clare Kelliher, Professor of Work and Organisation at Cranfield School of Management.

The judges will take part in the Q & A Panel, sponsored by Guidant Group, and there is also a networking session for attendees.