West Dunbartonshire Council, Commended 2015, The Cityfathers Best for all Stages of Fatherhood Award

West Dunbartonshire Council has shown that it is fully committed to supporting working fathers to achieve balance between work and family life. The council’s workforce is predominantly female (71%) and it is widely recognised that women are more likely to undertake caring responsibilities and to work flexibly and/or part-time. Through encouraging working fathers to take on a more active role in family life, the council felt it could benefit from greater engagement, retention and attraction of high-quality and committed male employees. One dad who works a compressed four-day week for West Dunbartonshire agrees: “It is a great commitment from both my manager and the council and it means I am more engaged and productive at work and thus committed to working for the council.”

The council’s commitment is led by its ‘Fathers’ Champion’, Richard Cairns who is also Executive Director of the Housing, Environmental and Economic Development Department, predominantly male dominated occupational areas. This demonstrates West Dunbartonshire Council’s commitment to identifying and targeting male roles to encourage change.

The childcare voucher scheme has recently been promoted specifically to male workers across the organisation as, following a comprehensive study, the council found that over three-quarters of the employees who were taking advantage of childcare vouchers were female. The council identified a real opportunity to engage directly with fathers within the organisation, through this promotion. Supported by senior management, the childcare voucher scheme was actively marketed in roles where employees are predominantly male, for example road workers, trades people, refuse collectors and gardeners. Father’s Day served as a means of promoting the message and publicity included payslip messages, articles aimed at fathers on the intranet, posters, flyers and a global email sent to all council employees. Crucially, the posters were also displayed in depots, on noticeboards and next to rotas and local notices. In addition, the promotion was discussed at ‘toolbox talks’, and leaflets were left in council vehicles for employees who were out on council business to read during tea and lunch breaks. This approach attracted positive feedback.

As a direct result of the promotion uptake of the scheme increased by 5%.

The council used this success as a test run for broader engagement with male workers and created a template for dissemination of other opportunities to this work group, including promotion of paternity leave, maternity support leave, shared parental leave and ‘Healthy Working Lives’ activities, such as men’s health checks.