Rachel’s story: Returning to medicine after 12 years

“The post was well supported but returning was very scary. I was convinced I had a giant beacon on my head which said: “I am old and weird.” But it got better, and I started to really enjoy the feeling of confidence I got from returning and doing something as me, not as mum.”

I started medical school in 1987. I went to St Andrew’s University for the pre-clinical course and did a BMedSci (Hons), then successfully applied to Trinity College, Cambridge, for my clinical years, graduating in 1994. I did my house jobs in Addenbrookes and Huntingdon, then did a medical SHO post, before becoming an SHO in histopathology in Nottingham in 1995, progressing to lecturer/honorary registrar.

In 1998 I took a sabbatical to do a postgraduate diploma in law, as I was contemplating a career as a coroner. During this year, I became pregnant and had my first baby in 1999. Although I did finish the law degree, I then decided I wanted to stay at home and I had another child in 2002. Although I continued paying my GMC fee, and stayed registered, I really stopped thinking of myself as a doctor.

In 2011 my husband decided he wanted to set up his own company, which also meant he was at home on some days, which he never had been before. So, after 12 years at home, I felt the time was right for me to return to work. I had already contemplated being a classroom assistant after helping in school whilst not working (not for me) and re-training in nutrition (expensive course). Then one day, it occurred to me I was still a registered doctor…

So, I picked up the phone, and asked the Royal College of Pathologists if I could come back? The answer was yes – but they didn’t know how.

After many rounds of phone calls to various people in histopathology (all encouraging) it became clear that to retrain, I needed “foundation competences”, which I’d never even heard of. This required returning to a junior acute medical post. However, I couldn’t apply to the formal foundation programme as I had too much experience. So, as this issue appeared insoluble, I applied for a part-time locum post in histopathology, and, much to my surprise, got it.

I commuted to London, from Derbyshire, for a year. The post was well supported but returning was very scary. I was convinced I had a giant beacon on my head which said: “I am old and weird.” But it got better, and I started to really enjoy the feeling of confidence I got from returning and doing something as me, not as mum. But I still couldn’t apply to the histopathology training programme, although I explored every way to overcome the foundation competences issue.

Finally, seeing no other way, I applied for a locum post on a foundation programme rotation, as a 50% job share. I revised clinical knowledge hard and made sure I was up to date on acute scenarios by completing Intermediate and Advanced Life Support. I was well supported in my initial placement, but it was a very hard year. However, I did feel competence and confidence return, with, to be honest, improved empathy and kindness from the life experience I had gained on my years out.

I then successfully reapplied to the histopathology training programme. I stayed working part-time and am now a specialty registrar in paediatric and perinatal pathology.

The things I found most helpful when I was returning to work were:
– lots of revision, so that I felt I knew something
– updating my skills to make me safe
– my hairdresser, so I felt I didn’t look quite so mumsy
– being myself and confident about why I had taken time out

I would have liked, but didn’t get:
– a peer group for support
– a good IT induction and reskilling
– a more formal, structured revision course
– easier access to information

Dr Rachel Rummery, B Med.Sci(Hons), MB, ChB (Cantab), DipRCPath, PGDL.
Health Education England National Fellow, Supported Return to Training
Specialist Registrar, Paediatric and Perinatal Pathology

Rachel will be joining us at
our Women Returners ‘Back to Your Future’ Conference in London on 13
May. She will be part of a panel of returners who will share their story
to
help and inspire others. Find out more about
our Conference and book your ticket now at the Early Bird price of £90.

Make your CV stand out: Use Action Verbs

If you’ve taken a long career break it could be many
years, and possibly even decades, since you last wrote a CV. Don’t just redo an old version, as CVs are now written in a very different way (see How to Write Your Post-Break CV).

One of the major changes is the shift from talking about your past responsibilities to highlighting your achievements. Gone are the days
when simply describing your previous roles was enough to secure an interview. Now you need to explain what you achieved in previous jobs which made you stand out.

We suggest you aim for 3-5 bullet points for each of your previous roles (and for your career break if you have done any work/volunteering/studying or developed skills in other ways such as relocation).

Beginning your bullet point with an action verb is a great way to start off.



What are action verbs?

These are some examples:

 

achieved     completed     conducted     implemented    improved     negotiated
produced     secured        created         established       launched     developed
organised    revitalised     evaluated      restructured     simplified    drove

Why are action verbs important in your CV?

  • Action verbs describe your past achievements in a compelling way that highlights your strengths and suitability for the role you’re applying for.
  • Action verbs keep bullet points short – particularly important if you have lots of past experience and are trying to keep your CV to the recommended maximum two sides of A4. For example, ‘Delivered XYZ project on time and within budget’, reads better than ‘I was responsible for delivering XYZ project on time and within budget.’
  • Action verbs have more impact. They are specific, strong and powerful. If a recruiter has lots of CVs to sift through, action verbs make your achievements stand out. They also help if employers use applicant tracking software programmed to look for specific words to describe the experience needed for a role.
  • Action verbs help you to be specific in describing what the results of your actions were and how you achieved them.
  • Action verbs can highlight your relevant skills/competencies (see below)

Which action verbs should you use? 

  • Scan the job advert and job description, similar job ads in the same industry, and the company’s website to see which verbs they use. Describing your past experiences using these words will give you the best chance of making your CV fit the bill.
  • Look at this action verb list which groups action words by skills group. Think about which skills you want to demonstrate – again, matching this back to the skills/competencies asked for on the job advert
  • Don’t use the same action verb more than twice. Use an online thesaurus or the action verb list to avoid repetition and keep the recruiter’s interest.

Do read our other blogs How to Write Your Post-Break CV and Return to Work CV Tips for other advice on writing your back-to-work CV.

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You’ll find much more help and advice on our website.

Rachel’s story: Returning to work with Mastercard

“Women Returners was the only website I found which offered an opportunity to re-engage with respected corporates on a dedicated, supported programme.” Rachel, 10-year career break

Prior to my career break I worked for a global IT company. I had joined from University and stayed with the company through different market sectors from Local Government to Telecommunications across client facing Business Development and Account Management roles to then leading the market sector.

I had my family whilst still working for my first company and I was lucky enough to benefit from a great HR department and to be able to flex my time down to four days per week after each child, moving back up to full time shortly afterwards.

I wanted the best of both worlds – to be a hands on parent and to have a career, but this became increasingly challenging as my husband travelled and worked long hours. In the end something had to give and we agreed that something was my career.

I knew if I stayed at home I would need something to keep me engaged so I joined the school Parents Teachers Association and quickly became Chair. I found this sense of giving back to the community so rewarding that by the time I finished my term I was already looking for something else which would work around the children and a busy home life.

My husband had been a Non-Executive Director on the Board of an NHS Trust and knew this would be perfect for me, so he connected me and it grew quickly from there. I became a Governor for a Mental Health Trust, and then a Non-Executive Director for Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust (BHT). I still sit on the Board at BHT where I chair the Commercial Development Committee. I am also a Director of Buckinghamshire Healthcare Projects Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Trust which I set up to drive commercial income for the Trust.

I then joined Citizens Advice as a Trustee and was then headhunted for other Non-Exec roles across other sectors. At this point, my husband suggested I go back to work full time.

Easier said than done.

I was at a loss to know how to re-engage. I had a few false starts – I knew returnship was a theme and found a few different websites, most wanting money and delivering very little value, before I was told about Women Returners. Women Returners was the only website I found which offered an opportunity to re-engage with respected corporates on a dedicated, supported programme. After 10 years it was very obvious that although I had built a portfolio Non-Exec career, I needed support to transition back into a full time role at a level comparable to my skills and experience.

Mastercard stood out for exactly this reason. The seniority of the role offered and the fit with my skills was unique. Most of the other roles on offer were looking for specific professional qualifications in either Project Management, Accountancy or Programming rather than General Management and Account Management experience.

The application process was a wholly supportive and positive experience. It wasn’t drawn out or onerous. After the initial online application I was contacted for a telephone interview with HR, then I had follow up interviews in person with my prospective Manager before I was contacted again by HR with the offer to join.

I was absolutely delighted.

Mastercard recruits for potential, weights emotional intelligence and is open minded enough to consider that not only could the skills I had developed in my career transport into Payments, but also that I had the opportunity to add value and innovation by bringing a different perspective.

I joined Mastercard in January 2018 and am delighted to say I am still here. I’m having the most amazing time. It feels like I’ve always been here – a part of the Mastercard family.

Would you like to Relaunch your Career at Mastercard? Find out more here

Sign up to our free network for more advice, support and job opportunities. You’ll find much more help and advice on our website.

How to be a Successful Returner Candidate

There are many reasons why employers want to attract those returning to the workplace after an extended break. Returning professionals offer a wealth of experience, maturity and a fresh perspective. Employers are now starting to recognise this and other positives of bringing returners into their organisation. By hiring returners an employer is able to tackle skills shortages, improve gender and age diversity, tap into a high-calibre talent pool, and improve their organisation’s attractiveness to potential employees in general.
But what do employers look for in individual candidates and how can you make the most of your skills and experience when you apply for a returner programme or any open role?
Here are our five top tips:
  1. Don’t try to hide your break on your CV or make excuses for it in the
    interview. If you’re applying for a returner programme, it is especially
    important to mention that you have been on a career break, including
    the length of your break at the time the programme starts. You risk
    being excluded from these opportunities if you try to cover up your
    break. If it’s been a while since you updated your CV and cover letter,
    read our blogs How to Write Your Post-Break CV and How to Write a Back-To-Work Cover Letter.
  2. Don’t undersell yourself. Learn to tell your story. Make sure you’re aware of, and appreciate, all the skills, experience and perspective that you can bring to an organisation. It’s likely that you will return to the workplace recharged, refreshed and enthusiastic to take on the challenge with new skills developed during your break. Make the most of this in interviews. This is the time to blow your own trumpet!
  3. Low professional confidence is common in women who have taken a career break. If you feel this is an issue for you, take steps to build your confidence back up again so that you believe in yourself and in your skills and experience. And don’t forget to read the success stories on our website for proof that, no matter how long your break, you can get back into a great job.
  4. Research and prepare thoroughly for interviews. Consider why you are a great fit for the organisation/role and articulate what sets you apart. Develop detailed examples of your competencies and skills – including transferrable ones – and prepare answers to typical questions.
  5. Show your enthusiasm and positivity. How you behave and the way in which you communicate is just as important as what you say in an interview. Make sure the interviewer can see the energy and motivation you’ll bring to their organisation!

Remember that employers aren’t doing you a favour. They have sound business reasons for encouraging returners back into the workplace to take on stimulating and rewarding roles. Taking the time to prepare yourself to make the most of this will put you in a strong position to resume a successful career.

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Adopting the right mindset for your return to work

For many people, September brings with it that old ‘back to school’ feeling – a sense of fresh starts, renewed energy and optimism. And, of course, September is a great time to kickstart your return to work journey as companies tend to start hiring again after the summertime lull. So how do you capitalise on this ‘new start’ feeling to help you achieve a successful return to work? One of the most important things is to adopt the correct mindset.

If you’ve been out of the workplace for a number of years, it can be hard to approach your journey with unremitting optimism and indeed this can be damaging to your progress and self-esteem. Being too optimistic, without adding a dose of realism, can lead to unrealistic expectations. For example, underestimating the effort needed or a feeling that if you just keep using the same job search methods, even if they’re not working, everything will ‘come right’ in the end.

On the other hand, we often find that the returner who claims she is being ‘realistic’ actually has a pessimistic perspective and that she too quickly dismisses the possibility of finding a rewarding job. The ‘pessimistic realist’ tends to believe the worst, quickly becomes disillusioned when she hits a few setbacks and decides that returning to work is hopeless and not worth the effort.

A more effective mindset

Far better to adopt a mindset of ‘realistic optimism’ – as psychologist Sandra Schneider advocates. Schneider tells us that optimism and realism are not in conflict – we need both. Realistic optimists are cautiously hopeful that things will work out the way they want and will do everything they can to ensure a good outcome. The realistic optimist finds out the facts and acknowledges the challenges and constraints she faces. Her optimism comes into play in her interpretation of ambiguous events. She recognises that many situations have a range of possible interpretations and chooses a helpful rather than an unhelpful one. She gives people the benefit of the doubt, is aware of the positives in her current situation and actively looks for future opportunities.

Here’s an example in practice. You send a ‘getting back in touch’ email to a former work colleague and don’t receive a response after a week. It’s all too easy to conclude that she just isn’t interested in talking to you, but consider other interpretations. Perhaps she’s on holiday, swamped with work and hasn’t had time to reply, or the email has landed in her junk mailbox. Now decide how to respond: contact her through a mutual friend, resend the email in a week, contact her via LinkedIn or even pick up the phone and call her. If she still doesn’t respond, choose a realistically optimistic interpretation (e.g. she’s too busy) and focus on making other connections.

Tips to develop your mindset

Here are 5 of our tips to help you adopt a more ‘realistic optimism’ mindset for your return to work:

  1. Combine a positive attitude with a clear evaluation of the challenges ahead. Don’t expect your journey to be a smooth one – you are likely to have setbacks – but trust that you have the ability to get yourself back on track
  2. Avoid dwelling on the negatives or jumping to overly negative conclusions. Recognise this ‘negativity bias’ is a result of how our brains are built (read more on this here)
  3. Don’t wait for the right time – it may never come. Simply taking action will move you forward
  4. Focus on what you can control rather than worrying about what you can’t
  5. If you think that lack of confidence is making you pessimistic, check out our advice on how to re-establish your confidence

There is evidence that ‘realistic optimism’ can boost your resilience and motivation, improve your day-to-day satisfaction with life and lead to better outcomes. And be reassured that it’s not about your genes – we can all learn to be realistic optimists!

If you are interested in Sandra Schneider’s research see:
Schneider, S.L. (2001). In search of realistic optimism: meaning, knowledge and warm fuzziness. American Psychologist, 56(3), 250-263.

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You’ll find much more help and advice on our website.

I’ve been on a career break for over 10 years – is it possible for me to return to work?

So, you’ve had a long career break and now want to return to meaningful work that builds on your skills and experience. It’s only human to feel daunted by this and we won’t pretend your route back to work will be a stroll in the park. But do believe in yourself – it is possible and there’s lots of help out there. You’re still the same capable person you were before your break – just a little out of practice.

First of all, check out the advice hub on our website – this will help you throughout your return to work journey. And for inspiration, and to show it’s possible, here are some real-life examples of women who have returned to work after a break of 10 or more years. Enjoy reading their stories – they have some great advice and tips!

 
M – Software Developer (14 year break)

M, who worked as an IT contractor, had a 14-year career break on and off. During her time away from the world of IT she did some teaching of basic IT skills and ran a business with mixed results. She decided to return to work as a software developer using recruitment companies. She is now a full-time PeopleSoft software developer.

Here are M’s top tips:

  • The best advice I have is to just go for it
  • Be determined if you have made up your mind that you definitely want to go back to work
  • Even after I received the standard rejection emails from the recruitment agents, I still phoned them to ‘check whether they had received my email’ and tried to show some personality, drive and ambition in a two minute phone call! It worked and the agent who sent me for the job interview had initially rejected my CV

Sarah-Jane – Portfolio Manager (15 year break)

Sarah Jane worked in asset management for 17 years before taking voluntary redundancy in 2002. During her 15 year career break she trained as a homeopath and worked for a small printing company. A change in family circumstances in 2017 prompted her to re-establish her career in asset management. She returned via the Fidelity New Horizons Programme.

Here are Sarah-Jane’s top tips:

  • First and foremost, believe it is possible!
  • Be organised, do your research, brush up on skills that will be needed once you are working
  • Contact old colleagues and ask for advice – they will be happy to give it
  • Receiving rejections is hard, but learn from each interview and treat each setback as a chance to consolidate and assess your next move
  • It may take time to find the right role in the right company but it will have been worth the effort when you do

Jill – In-house Lawyer (12 year break including career change)

Jill worked for 8 years as an in-house lawyer. After a 7 year career break following the birth of her third child she re-trained as a family mediator. Although she enjoyed her new career, she didn’t like working from home and realised how suited she was to being an in-house lawyer and how much she enjoyed it. She began with a returner course for solicitors and after plenty of setbacks and dead ends, six months later she was offered her first interim in-house role.

Here are Jill’s top tips:

  • Be determined in pursuing what you want and don’t be afraid of trying new areas, even if it is not exactly what you think you are looking for
  • No experience is wasted and you will learn a lot along the way
  • A very practical point: take the earliest interview date possible. In one case the company stopped interviewing after they saw me
  • Returners are often more positive, motivated and enthusiastic than other people, which is great for any business

Sara – Software Developer (13 year break)

Sara graduated with a BSc in Computing and pursued a career as a software developer. She became a full-time mum when her first child was born. Sara returned to work 13 years later via the Capgemini Returners Programme.

Sara says: “Software development has changed immeasurably, but the problem-solving mindset remains the same and it is this ability to problem solve that makes a software engineer. I’ve learnt that I can go back to work, and my family won’t fall apart. My children can survive.”

Sara’s advice is: “Go for it! You know more than you think you do and the maturity and diversity that you bring to a team is immeasurable in adding to its success.”

Nina – Mobile Technology Specialist (11 year break)

Nina worked for a variety of multi-national mobile technology firms before her 11 year career break during which she retrained as a secondary school maths teacher. She returned to the mobile phone industry via Vodafone’s six-month Return to Technology programme.

Here are Nina’s top tips for technology returnships:

  • When selling yourself, focus on your skills, not your knowledge
  • There are loads of technology jobs out there, someone is looking for your skills set. Don’t worry about having been out of the industry for some years, they are looking at what you can do for them
  • Don’t wait for the perfect job that matches your long-term ambition. Get your foot through the door and you can look around once inside
  • Get yourself a LinkedIn account and get back in touch with old colleagues. Someone is most likely looking for help on some project or other so you can get some recent experience under your belt

You can check out all our return-to-work success stories here.

And why not sign up to our free network for advice, support and job opportunities.

Summer Return to Work Action Plan

With the holidays started or just around the corner,
you could be forgiven for focussing solely on the long, (hopefully) hot summer
to come. It may be tempting to push thoughts about returning to work to the
back of your mind. However businesses tend to start hiring again (and launching
returner programmes) in early September. There are a variety
of simple ways in which you can lay strong foundations now – while
taking a much-needed break – so you’ll be in a good position for an autumn
return to work *

Here are some ideas to help you make the most of the summer months:


Build up your Network Map
It doesn’t matter if you’re not yet ready to start networking,
building your network map* takes time and the sooner you can start the better.
This is an ideal task to tackle during the holidays as it can be done in small
chunks whenever you have some spare time.

Begin by creating three lists. In the first, put everyone you can think
of from your past: people you knew at school and university, friends you may
not have seen for a long time, former employers, colleagues and employees. In
the second, list everyone you know now: neighbours, friends, school-gates and
local community acquaintances, other parents, people you’ve met through your
hobbies or volunteering. In the third, try to think of future networks and
groups it would be useful to join: professional associations etc. See this post for more
details.

Even if you start by thinking that you don’t have a
network, you’ll be surprised how your map grows. You’ll be
surprised how quickly your map will grow and how many people you can
potentially network with when the time comes.

Get Targeted
Whether you have too many choices or too few, a useful way to
think about what to do next is to think back to a work role, or part of a role,
that you found fulfilling and reflect on what made it so (see this post for
a process to uncover more about what gives you fulfillment). Digging
out old appraisal forms (if you can find them) can help with this.

Job factors that you found fulfilling are related to your strengths and values
and they will continue to be of great significance to you in the future.
Working out what’s important to you will give vital clues as to what to do
next. You may want to return to your old field of work; you may decide to take
elements from your past roles and identify a new one or you may find you have
an idea for a new business or a desire to retrain in a new area.

If you’re able to identify new skills you’d like to acquire or skills you want
to refresh, summer is also a good time to research courses which often start in
September.

Practise your Introduction

Meeting new people while on holiday or day trips
provides a low risk way to practice telling your story. You can test out
and refine your answer to the often-dreaded question – ‘What do you do?’ Try
using our Career Break Sandwich model,
starting with your past work experience, then talking about your career
break and finishing with what you want to do in the future. Hopefully by the
end of the summer you will feel much more confident about talking about your
skills, experience and aims for the future.

Prepare your Family

If you’re a parent, your return to work will be a lot smoother if you
have the support and co-operation of your partner and children. The long summer
holiday will give you plenty of time to consider what changes will need to be
made and how best to prepare your family. For younger children, think about a
new school dropoff/pickup routine or new after school clubs. Older children may
need to take on more responsibility such as organising their sports kit or
preparing their own packed lunches. The holidays are a great time to teach your
children new skills that will help them adjust to your return to work. And
don’t forget to think about ways you can make the transition easier on
yourself, eg, internet grocery shopping or hiring a cleaner. Read our posts
on combating guilt feelings
if these get in the way of making the changes that will help you.
These are just a few ideas – the main thing is to keep
taking small actions to move you forwards. We hope you have a great summer!

Thanks to our friends at iRelaunch for the Network Map concept
Ideas adapted from earlier posts

Sarah-Jane’s story: Returning to financial services after a 15-year break

My advice for anyone trying to get back to work is, first and foremost, believe it is possible!” Sarah-Jane, 15-year career break

Before my career break, I was a portfolio manager, a Director of Fixed Income at Merrill Lynch Investment Managers, for 17 years. In addition to managing global fixed income portfolios, I was responsible for front office IT development (electronic reporting, trade order management and compliance monitoring) and new product development, which included launching a High Yield CBO. I took a voluntary redundancy package in 2002. During my career break, I focussed on my family as well as training as a homoeopath, establishing a small practice. I also worked for a small printing firm, concentrating on contract management and corporate governance. So I was definitely not putting my feet up!

Changing family circumstances in 2017 provided the impetus for me to re-establish my career in asset management. This was a tough thing to do, so I contacted my old boss to ask for advice and guidance and he suggested investigating women returner programmes. Finding the Women Returners website was the turning point. It provided me with information about current programmes as well as being a valuable resource and support. I didn’t have a clear idea about the role I was looking for, because I didn’t know how to value my previous experience in the context of such a long absence from the workplace. Fortunately, potential employers did. The real revelation came when I was interviewed for a role as a Fixed Income Portfolio Manager on the Fidelity New Horizons returnship programme – my previous work experience was still very relevant!

When I approached Fidelity International, I was initially interviewed for a role in Fixed Income before being asked to interview with Multi Asset. Multi Asset offered me an extraordinary opportunity: to become a Portfolio Manager in a dynamic, growing part of the business and learn new skills in an exciting area of asset management. They offered me a position that would stretch and challenge me – an opportunity that would have been exciting 15 years ago – and one that I grasped with both hands. There was a real job opportunity behind the 20-week contract and a chance to carve out a new career. I’m pleased to say that I now have a permanent role with Fidelity.

It is difficult to exaggerate the magnitude of returning to the workplace after such an extended period away. There were moments when it was completely overwhelming. However, the Multi Asset team was very welcoming. Whilst I was very much in at the deep end from the start, there was plenty of help and people willing to answer my questions. I only had to ask and support was there. This remains – I still ask questions and I still receive fulsome answers.

Fidelity has given me the time I needed to find my feet. As well as receiving help from my colleagues within Multi Asset, there has been good support more generally. I needed to sit the IMC exams and was given the resources and time necessary to do this. Other returners have helped by sharing their experiences, but probably the greatest support was the individual coaching received from Women Returners. This was superb. Anna, my coach, ensured that I managed my work/life balance and reassured me that the gamut of emotions I was experiencing was normal and to be expected. She had the enviable ability of being able to listen to my thoughts, order them and come up with a strategy. Whatever topic I chose to cover, I received measured advice and would leave each session with a list of steps to follow. Anna ensured that I could concentrate on my strengths and what I brought to the role. It is all too easy to focus on what you perceive as your weaknesses.

I am so glad that I made the giant leap back into the workplace. It has been challenging but stimulating and enjoyable. There is a renewed spring in my step and I am determined to make the most of every opportunity presented to me. My advice for anyone trying to get back to work is, first and foremost, believe it is possible! Be organised, do your research, brush up on skills that will be needed once you are working. Contact old colleagues and ask for advice – they will be happy to give it. Receiving rejections is hard, but learn from each interview and treat each setback as a chance to consolidate and assess your next move. It may take time to find the right role in the right company but it will have been worth the effort when you do.

If you would like support with your own return-to-work journey, you can sign up to our free network here.

Note: Fidelity’s latest returnship is now open for applications: Fidelity New Horizons Global Platform & Advisory

Women’s Business Council – good news for women returners?

The barriers to women’s career progression are back in the news with the publication of a report by the Women’s Business Council (WBC), looking at ways of
maximising women’s contribution to economic growth and assessing priorities in
removing the barriers that women face in playing a full part in business and
the workplace.  But does it say anything
new and interesting for women returners?
And will anything change as a result?
 
What’s new?
The
headline of the report is that there are 2.4 million women who are not working
and who want to work.  So this is
a report seems to be about women returners, the first time this topic has been
approached so comprehensively.  It
probably helps that Ruby McGregor-Smith CBE, the Chair of the WBC herself took
an 18 month career break and is now CEO of a FTSE-250 company.
As you
might expect, the report addresses barriers to our careers from start to
finish.  It breaks its recommendations
down into four areas: broadening girls’ aspirations at school (Starting Out);
flexible working and other support for working parents (Getting On); women in
the ‘third part’ of their working lives (Staying On); and female entrepreneurship
(Enterprise).
Two
aspects are new and of note:
·
The needs of women wishing to return to work
after a break are highlighted, along with support for parents who continue to
work;
·
It is significant, I think, that there is not
yet a recognised term for the ‘third part’ of our lives: it is a symptom of how
invisible older women can feel.
So the
WBC must be applauded for bringing these dimensions into public debate and to
the attention of the Government.
 
Will anything change?
It is
hard to see how in these difficult economic times, the Government will do more
than it is already.  Indeed its response
to the report does little more than reiterate the actions it has already
taken.  What the Government does promise,
however, is to:
·
Lead by example in incorporating the WBC’s
message and approach in flexible working, as a major employer;
·
Appoint a business champion for older workers
and to work with existing bodies to develop new approaches for this group;
·
Provide better web-based support for women
entrepreneurs and tackle the belief that they are less likely to obtain banking
finance than men
For its
part, the WBC will meet every six months to monitor progress and will report in
one year on what has been achieved.
So,
while the Government and business will be looking anew at women’s careers and
how to support them, the focus is mostly on continuing to do what they are
already doing for working women.  I fear
It might, therefore, take some time for the effects to trickle out into the
world of women returners.
What do you think of the WBC’s report
and the Government’s response? What measures do you think would make a
difference to you returning to work?
Posted by Katerina