5 minute read

Back to Work: Women Returners

Back to Work

Get a helping hand back to work with Women Returners

Women looking to return to work after taking long career breaks face multiple challenges at the point of recruitment. Widespread bias against candidates without recent experience too often directs their diligently tailored CVs straight to the ‘no’ pile.

Women Returners is a purpose-led consulting, coaching and network organisation focused on enabling professionals to get back to work after a long career break for childcare, eldercare or other reasons. They work directly with leading employers to create supported routes back to professional level employment. They have partnered with over 120 leading employers, including many Scottish organisations, and have supported thousands of professional women to re-enter the workforce through their free 7,300-strong Women Returners Professional Network.

Since their introduction into the UK in 2014, returner programmes have provided a supported route back to suitable-level work for well over a thousand women. The most common format is a returnship, a paid three to six month professional placement, with 75-90% of participants typically securing ongoing roles. Alternatives are supported hiring, bringing returners directly into permanent roles, and retraining programmes where previous skills and experience are valued. With well-structured returner programmes, flexible working options are discussed at the point of hire and training, coaching and mentoring support is provided to set the returners up for success.

Women Returners is bringing their expertise to deliver a large-scale project aimed at removing the ‘Career Break Penalty’. The Women Returners Career Boost Accelerator Programme funded by the Scottish Government will provide personalised support to Scottish women who have taken long career breaks - of six months up to fifteen or more years - for childcare, eldercare, redundancy, health or other reasons. The programme will be delivered by expert returner coaches and will address the practical and psychological barriers experienced by women wanting to get back to professional work after a long break.

Women on career breaks in Scotland can register now for the Career Boost Accelerator Programme. Women Returners is also calling on employed professionals to volunteer a few hours of their time to act as return-to-work mentors.

This support is essential to stem reversals in gender diversity within the Scottish economy. Studies show that COVID-19 threatens to reverse the improvements for women in the workplace made over the last decade, as the damage from the pandemic is disproportionately being felt by women. The McKinsey Report estimated that female job losses due to the pandemic are 1.8 times higher than male job loss rates globally.

Hazel Little, Edinburgh-based Client and Programme Director at Women Returners, says: “As organisations emerge from the pandemic, we are seeing record high levels of recruitment activity. We must ensure that women who have taken a career break are part of the solution to the recruitment crisis. Women with a gap on their CV are often perceived to be a risky hire, with outdated skills and experience. They can lose self-confidence and networks and so do not perform at their best in the recruitment process. These barriers mean that high-calibre women returners are too often passed over for candidates with more recent work experience. Our Career Boost Programme will equip professional women to be ready to re-enter the workforce with increased knowledge, confidence and skills to set them up for success during the recruitment process and beyond.”

Through one-to-one discussions, the programme has been designed to establish the exact support required for each returner, including a range of tailored coaching and skills training modules with the option of mentoring, to support each step of the return-to-work journey. Group workshops will promote the creation of encouraging return-to-work support networks, which are highly valued by returners.

Women who meet the criteria can apply now. One-to-one training needs evaluations will be carried out and support will be delivered remotely in small interactive groups throughout January and February 2022.

Women Returners is also calling out for employed UK professionals who would like to mentor a returner. The Return-to-Work mentoring programme is designed to support women wishing to return to the workplace by benefiting from knowledge, experience and guidance from a professional.

Julianne Miles, CEO, Women Returners said

“This is a chance for professional individuals to give a few hours their time to provide valuable support to a community of women who would benefit greatly from a mentor. Being a return-towork mentor is a rewarding experience and the opportunity to give back to women who want to relaunch their careers.”

Women Returners Professional Network is a free-ofcharge resource which offers returning individuals access to monthly webinars, returner events and lots of advice and support on returning to work.

For more details, visit: www.womenreturners.com/opportunities/career-boostaccelerator-scotland-programme/