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Published: 20 Jan 2015

Citi, Commended 2014, The Cityfathers Best for All Stages of Fatherhood Award

Citi has a well-established strategy to support new fathers, part of the bank’s policy of support for parents throughout their careers. They have an excellent track record of working with fathers, and have targeted initiatives to close the cultural gap that can make it harder for fathers than mothers in the workplace.

In 2009 Citi launched ‘New Dads’ workshops. These are highly interactive and participative classroom-based sessions, led by an external partner, to help new or expecting fathers navigate the challenges and opportunities of new fatherhood while working in a demanding organisation. The group explores their own goals and aspirations for fatherhood and how their map for fatherhood might differ from the one they inherited from their own fathers. It also looks at managing boundaries with others (specifically managers and family members).

The workshops cover essential information on what is available to working parents at Citi, such as paternity leave and pay, additional paternity leave (APL), a Dad specific web portal, flexible schedules, back-up childcare, childcare vouchers, the employee assistance programme and family cover for private health. While all this information is readily available on intranet sites, Citi’s experience is that compared with new mothers, fathers seem less connected to sources of information that would help. The New Dads workshops are offered on a quarterly basis at no charge to the business unit. They are advertised using internal news bulletins, soft screens in public areas and by personal invitation when people have registered for paternity leave.

When the government introduced APL, Citi reviewed the policy on enhanced discretionary pay. It has always offered enhanced pay for ordinary paternity leave, while the ordinary maternity leave (OML) period is paid at full pay for the first 26 weeks. When Citi introduced its own internal APL policy, it offered the same terms as for OML. As APL can start when the baby is 20 weeks old, Citi enhances to full pay for the remaining 6 weeks of the OML period. In 2013 seven fathers took APL, up from three fathers in 2012. Their experiences have been tracked carefully, through consultations with both employees and managers. Citi is keen to learn from fathers’ experiences: of registering for APL, of their leave in terms of connectivity with work and at home, and of their return to work.

Citi has taken a proactive approach to learning from the experiences of its fathers, including those who have adopted children. While the number of adoptive parents at Citi is low (the journey to adoption is hard, and can last between two and four years), the bank took the view that adoption is just another route to becoming a parent and so should be supported in the same way. It therefore enhanced its adoption policy to allow for time off to attend adoption appointments, in the same way that its maternity policy allows time off for antenatal appointments. Prior to this, adoptive parents had had to use their annual leave.

Citi understands the critical role that managers play in fathers’ experiences of their transition. Since 2007, it has offered management workshops, initially focused on managing maternity. When APL was introduced, these workshops were modified to include paternity leave as well as adoption and same-sex couples, and renamed ‘Managing Parent Leave’. In 2013, workshops became mandatory for line managers.

Citi tracks detailed metrics to help it understand how policy and support are actually working in the wider business, and whether or not they are effective. It tracks paternity leave take-up and notes that in the last four years it has become more successful at getting fathers to formally register their leave. It monitors the number of attendees at both the ‘New Dads’ and ‘Managing Parent Leave’ workshops, the number of fathers taking APL, and the numbertaking adoption leave. Performance ranking and annual pay decisions for those taking, and those who have taken, APL are monitored too.