Women Buoyed up to Return to Work at the Women Returners Conference 2019
Press Release, London, 15 May 2019 – This year’s third annual Women Returners conference, supported by 30% Club, was hosted on Monday 13 May at Rooms on Regents Park.
The sold-out event welcomed 200 women with a professional background returning to work after multi-year career breaks and was sponsored by 10 leading employers: BBC Design & Engineering, Bloomberg, Credit Suisse, EY, FDM Group, Fidelity International, J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley, O2 and St James’s Place Academy.
The keynote speaker was BBC Woman’s Hour broadcaster Jane Garvey, who urged women to put themselves forward and “Big themselves up more!” as a group of skilled, experienced individuals who bring value to the UK job market.
Women Returners is the leading UK champion of getting women professionals back into work after an extended career break. A social business, they work with individual returners and employers to achieve their mission. They run a free professional network to provide a large-scale support system, community and guidance on successful re- entry into a corporate career.
Women Returners also partners with top employers to create supported routes back to mid-senior level roles and has led the introduction of ‘returnships’ and ‘supported hiring’ returner programmes into the UK and Ireland.
Returner programmes are becoming ever more essential to the economy as businesses recognise the benefit of employing highly-skilled, educated individuals with sought-after experience and industry knowledge. The ‘returnship’ market grew from three programmes in 2014 to involve over 60 employers in 2018, in response to market demand.
The profile of the Conference attendees demonstrates the high-calibre of this talent pool. 98% were graduates and 72% had postgraduate degrees and/or professional qualifications. 37% had 15+ years of pre-break work experience, 30% had 10-14 years, and 24% had 5-9 years.
Despite this calibre, the need for returner programmes was evident in the stories of the returner panel at the Conference, demonstrating the bias in traditional recruitment against older candidates without recent experience. An HR returner with over 30 years’ experience called the EY returnship a ‘lifesaver’, as she had previously applied for 500 roles with only one interview. Yemi, a Strategic Programme Manager said she had felt her career was over at 52 after a five-year break before returning to work on the Enfield Council returnship.
This year’s conference featured panel sessions from conference sponsors on why they are targeting returner hires, as well as from returners explaining how they personally got back into the workforce. There were also practical sessions on developing career direction (your ‘Career Compass’), boosting professional