You might have seen or heard the press coverage this week on the findings from Project 28-40, a report from Opportunity Now, the gender campaign arm of Business in the Community. It’s the largest ever study of women and work in the UK, with 25,000 responses.
The media focused on the difficulties women face with work in general and with combining careers and families.
But having read through the whole report, the pessimistic coverage doesn’t tell the whole story. There is some ‘myth-busting’ with the recognition that women are just as ambitious and confident as men and actively seek opportunities to advance their careers. At the same time, the message is that companies’ policies are often not effective in practice. There is plenty more for employers to do to move women’s progression ‘from a diversity initiative to a core business priority‘. Recommendations include setting targets for numbers of women at each senior level in the organisation and ways to defeat the flexible working stigma.
We particularly like the call to ‘allow for non-linear careers – your top talent will have times in their lives they need to take a step back‘.
Hidden in the detail there is a practical recommendation for longer-term returners, that employers consider return(er)ships for women who’ve had a career break of 2+ years:
women returners – women returning from a long term career break to work could
work for a fixed internship with the possibility of a permanent role at the
end, allowing both the employer and the employee to ‘try before they buy’
We are delighted to have been asked by Opportunity Now to work with them to inform and persuade businesses to take up the returnship concept. We will also continue to promote returnships in the media and through our networks and will actively publicise any new returnship programmes that are introduced.