Using a “Fatherhood Champion”

A Champion can be used to demonstrate the positive effects of using caring policies such as spending more time with children and bonding.

A father who has used a policy successfully is the best person to communicate it to other parents (and especially fathers) in the workplace. He can let people know that it is perfectly fine to ask for Shared Parental leave or take the full entitlement to Paternity Leave, and can help to ensure that the workforce are aware of the organisation’s policies.

If you are a smaller organisation, there may not yet be an appropriate person, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use an external Champion so that fathers can see what is possible, have someone to relate to, and get ideas and inspirations from. If there isn’t someone already working at your organisation, some real life examples you can use are below.

Whatever the Champion’s circumstances, it will help if he is a good communicator. He can let people know that it is perfectly fine to ask for leave, and can help to ensure that the workforce are aware of the organisation’s policies. If you have someone in the organisation who fits the role, the more active they can be the better, this might mean attending a parenting group, being available to talk to other fathers or being a case study that others can take inspiration from. Using internal communications such as newsletters or an employee intranet can spread the word and be a good place to present the Champion as an inspiring case study.

What to consider when selecting and promoting fatherhood Champions

Important consideration: Should an organisation have multiple Champions who have used a particular policy, it is advisable to set up a buddy system so that anyone within the organisation wishing to learn more could approach a workplace Champion through the buddy system to learn about their experience using the policy. This can help to overcome the perceived complexity of a policy that may be preventing a father from applying for/ accessing the policy.

When developing a workplace champion to help communicate and promote the usage of an organisational policy, It is first important to consider how much support and resources the organisation is able to provide. Can you offer them some workload time to undertake this role, are there resources to develop posters and case studies? Next, it is important to identify and approach fathers in the workplace who have used the policy recently. Then ask these employees if they would be interested in being a workplace champion for the policy (e.g., SPL or flexible working), and for being the face of fatherhood within your organisation. You can have as many champions as suits the size of your organisation. Ideally it would be powerful to have a diverse range of champions by level and function within the organisation (i.e., employee/ team member to senior management, finance/operations etc), demonstrating that fatherhood can take different forms, and showing the organisation’s commitment to supporting all fathers.

Once the champions have been identified and they have agreed to the role, reassure them that they are not being asked to be an expert on the policy that they had recently used, but rather should signpost other parents and prospective parents to where to get the answers to their questions. Finally, create profiles of the workplace champion for the policy they used (e.g., Shared Parental Leave or flexible working etc) which can be placed on posters and other internal communications such as the company intranet.

Champion bios could be created or formatted as a poster, shared via newsletters, intranets or other online spaces (such as social media platforms), or all of the above!

A workplace Champion bio could look something like this:

  • Image of Champion (with or without baby/child/children)
  • Role within company
  • Length of time worked for the company
  • Anecdote/quote from champion*
  • The benefits they experienced from using the policy
  • How they feel on their working within the organisation using/ having used the policy

An anecdote or quote from the Champion involved could read something like:

“Taking advantage of SPL has enabled me not only to be a better father and husband, but a better employee too. I returned after the birth of Charlie having taken a six-month period of leave; I feel as though I have a much better bond and relationship with my son as a result of this. When I returned to work, I returned with a renewed sense of purpose for my role due to feeling content with the amount of time I had just spent with my new son and the ongoing relationship I have with him.  On return I found that the support on hand atwork really helped to ease this transition”

(The above quote is a fictional example created for the purpose of the Champion bio example; any likeness to a real-life situation is coincidental)

Example Blog of workplace champions

If you don’t yet have an appropriate person in your setup, we have examples from other organisations which can be used to communicate and inspire fathers to use family friendly policies designed to support them as fathers.