Skip nav announces top employers for 2011

celebrating the leading companies in diversity and work life balance has announced the winners of its annual Top Employer Awards, celebrating the leading companies in diversity and work life balance.

The Awards were presented at a ceremony at London's Soho Hotel on 5 October where the keynote speaker was best-selling business author Alison Maitland.

Winner of the Overall Top Employer award was the John Lewis Partnership. It was praised by judges for the comprehensive and embedded nature of what it offered on work life balance. Fiona O'Hara, Human Capital & Diversity Lead of last year's winner Accenture, took part in a panel discussion with guests at the event.

Awards were presented for seven other categories. These included three new categories this year – childcare, talent attraction and Working mums champion:

Winner of the Top Employers Award for Childcare went to the John Lewis Partnership. The judges felt the winner of this award had a comprehensive and broad-based range of policies and practices which addressed a wide range of childcare issues.

The Top Employers Award for Employee Engagement went to Prudential. The judges felt the winner had enthusiastically embraced employee engagement and made huge and innovative progress.

The Top Employers Award for Innovation in Flexible Working went to
Accenture. The judges felt Accenture was doing something on every front and that everything about its flexible work culture was open and transparent. For this company, flexible working was the norm.

The Top Employers Award for SMEs with 1-25 employees went to IT firm Hireserve. The judges praised the winner for demonstrating clearly the business case for using flexible working. Flexible practices were clearly communicated, including at interview stage and part timers were considered real employees with a career ahead of them.

The Top Employers Award for SMEs with over 26-250 employees went to shoe retailer DUO. The judges praised the winner's array of impressive policies aimed at supporting working parents. They recognised the skills parents brought to the workplace, were supportive if staff had sick children and showed flexibility across a broad variety of roles.

The Top Employers Award for Talent Attraction, went to Virtual Sales Team. The judges felt the winner demonstrated clearly and openly in job adverts that flexibility was part of their business model and it was clear their approach had boosted retention.

The Working Mums Champion Award went to Mia Brennan of recruitment
company Square Mile Connections. The judges felt the winner showed
energy and commitment in driving forward innovative policies and
clearly demonstrated that they were having an impact outside their own company in the promotion of flexible working.

The Award judges were: Gillian Nissim, Founder of; Andy Lake, Editor of; Jennifer Liston-Smith, Head of Coaching Development at My Family Care; David Dunbar, Head of BT Flexible Working Services; and Dr Caroline Gatrell, Senior Lecturer in Management Learning and Leadership in the Management School at Lancaster University.

Alison Maitland, co-author of a forthcoming book on the future of
work, said: "Rapid social and technological change is fuelling a
revolution in work practices similar to that brought about by the
industrial revolution. The winning employers today and in the future will be those that adapt quickly by empowering and trusting people to manage their own work lives and by measuring and rewarding them on results, not hours. This requires a shift in culture and attitudes, led from the top, but results in major benefits for employers, employees and the environment."

Gillian Nissim, Founder of, said: “Through these
Awards we hope to inspire other employers by offering them examples of outstanding practice which clearly demonstrates the benefits of flexible working and good work life balance policies and practice for both employees and employers.”

Notes for editors:
* Shortlisted for the awards were:

Childcare - John Lewis and Workplace Options. This Award covers
childcare support, such as emergency childcare provision and childcare vouchers.

Employee Engagement - John Lewis and Prudential.

Innovation in flexible working – Accenture; Buckles Solicitors; and Workplace Options.

SME 1-25 employees - Clink Ltd; Hireserve; Square Mile Connections; Viva Live Music; and Work Clever Recruitment.

SME 26-250 employees - Buckles Solicitors; DUO; and The Curve Group.

Talent Attraction – Hireserve; Virtual Sales Team; and Linen at Home.

Working Mums Champion – James Phipson of Clink Ltd; Karen Ovenden of Hireserve; and Mia Brennan of Square Mile Connections.

Media partner of the Awards was ri5.

Alison Maitland, a former Financial Times journalist, specialises in leadership, gender, and the changing world of work. Her book Future Work: How Businesses Can Adapt and Thrive in the New World of Work, co-authored with Peter Thomson is published in October. It sets out the compelling business case for a change in organisational cultures and working practices to allow employees more freedom and flexibility.

To find out more about the Workingmums Top Employer Awards 2011 go to or contact Mandy Garner on 07789 106435 or