Trend alert: Returnships unleash the value of returning mothers



Let’s hear it for all the women out there who left the corporate world to raise their children, look after their parents, or support their partners. The women who swapped the peaceful world of simple 9 – 5 jobs for the manic world of being carer, cleaner, cook, nurse, coach, counselor and cheerleader to their families. The women who have become masters of prioritization, multitasking and delegation.

These women have learned as much off the job as others have learned on the job. And they’d be an asset to any organization. Unfortunately, there aren’t many organizations that can recognize and harness their value.

The rise of returnships

I have been following the rise of ‘returnships’ – where companies offer returning mothers paid placements to help them relaunch their careers – with great interest. Placements are typically between three and six months long and aim to help returning employees refresh their technology skills, reclaim their confidence, and reacclimatize to the corporate landscape.

The idea was first introduced in the States by Goldman Sachs in 2008, then adopted in Britain in 2014 by Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank.

According to the UK Government, returnships will not only help bring a wealth of experience to employers, but will boost the economy, too. In fact, researchers found that increasing the number of women in work by as little as 5% could create £750m extra in tax revenue.

A greater number of women in senior positions leads to greater profitability

We already know that there’s a shortage of women in senior leadership positions in most industries and geographies, with the tech industry lagging far behind. Did you know that only 5% of leadership positions in the technology industry are held by women?

Asha Vade wrote an insightful article for Mashable, quoting research by and the Michelle R. Clayman Institute, which found that “the mid-level is perhaps the most critical juncture for women on the technical career ladder, because it is here that a complex set of gender barriers converge.” According to the research, 56% of women at high-tech companies leave their organizations at this point. And according to Harvard Business Review, only 40% of these women return to full-time professional jobs.

Yet the benefits of diversity are clear: a diverse workplace leads to better performance and higher profits. When it comes to gender equality in particular, McKinsey & Co found that gender diversity is correlated with both profitability and value creation – which means that it’s in your organization’s interests to hire and retain women in senior roles.

Add a returnship stream to your integration and retention strategy

Hopefully you’ve already created a robust employee integration and retention strategy that promotes diversity and inclusion. If not, take a look at this article to learn more about the value of such a strategy.

Consider creating an additional stream aimed at returning employees. Here are some elements you might want to include in your returnship integration strategy:

  • A mentorship program. Give returning employees direct access to someone who can answer their questions, ease their fears and help them navigate their new environment.
  • Network building. One of the first things stay-at-home moms lose is their network. Help them reconnect by introducing them to peers across the industry and ensuring they’re invited to relevant events.
  • Technology training. New technology is probably the most daunting aspect of returning to work after a significant hiatus. Help your returning employees get up to speed by scheduling regular training for them.

How vi by Aderant helps

vi offers an intuitive, timeline-based solution that helps you create a roadmap for integrating and retaining employees. The tool ensures that your strategy is followed, and offers real-time, dashboard views of integration progress for all new hires.

Use it to create a tailored integration strategy for returning employees and then track their performance against that of their peers to see how well they’re settling in.