Before I set up GPS Return, I began my own job search looking for a full-time role as an internal recruiter. It is something I have done before, for a large American IT firm and I left when I had my eldest child. I applied for dozens and dozens of positions, but I rarely got a call back from recruiters. By that time, I had been ‘out of work’ for about 4.5 years and it was obvious that this was what was setting me back. And I was by no means alone!
According to research by PwC, there is an estimated £1.7bn economic gap every year that is caused by women either unable to return to work after having children or having to take a more junior or lower paid role. The good news is that some people are starting to take notice and slowly, ever so slowly, there are starting to be more options for Mums (and Dads!) wanting to return to work.
Some major brands are offering ‘returnships’ which are higher-level paid internships. The programmes are designed to help the ‘returner’ ease back into working life with full support and flexibility. With firms such as Vodafone, Virgin, Deloitte and O2 already offering, it’s only a matter of time before more companies jump on the bandwagon.
However, it’s sad to see that the majority of these programmes are only available in London and the South East. Manchester seems to be the closest for candidates in Yorkshire – and, let’s face it, it would be a bit of a trek and not so family friendly.
Firms are also being set up with their biggest selling point being that they’re family friendly. This seems especially prevalent in the accountancy and law sectors – industries that are notoriously hard to go back to once you’ve had children and flexibility is your number one concern. These firms don’t expect 5 full days sat at your desk, but rather they employ contractors to take on a job at a time and the contractor will work from home with the occasional day in the office. It is great to see Serenwood and Business Works UK leading the charge on this within Yorkshire.
So while there is still a long way to go, it does seem that the tide has turned and GPS Return is actively working with clients across Yorkshire, providing education and guidance on the benefits on hiring returning parents. I’m hopeful that by the time my children are parents, then easily returning to work in roles that provide flexible, family friendly roles, like the examples above will be the rule and not the exception.