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Employers Discuss the Rationale for a Returner Programme

“Finding diverse and experienced talent is always challenging, even for larger firms – returners offer a pipeline of new talent which we are really happy to invest in.”

The structure of the programme has been really valuable,  for the business and for the returners.”


Women Returners hosted 240 professional women at our annual Women Returners Back to Your Future Conference in October 2020.  Returners enjoyed a mix of keynotes, workshops and panel sessions and the opportunity to hear from and meet our employer sponsors: Accenture Ireland, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Bank of England, Bloomberg, Credit Suisse, Facebook, FDM Group, J.P. Morgan, Moody’s, O2, St. James’s Place Academy. One of the two Employer Panels was on the Rationale for Hiring Returners. Isabel Berwick, Work & Careers Editor of the Financial Times, talked with six returner employers about the business case, the value that returners have brought to their organisations and the benefits of setting up a structured returner programme.

Contributing Employers

  • Charlotte Gerken, Executive Director, Insurance Supervision Directorate, Bank of England
  • Lindsay Hewitt, EMEA Diversity & Inclusion Leader, Amazon Web Services (AWS)
  • Craig Locke, Global Talent Acquisition, Bloomberg
  • Kay O’Leary, EMEA Director of Logistics, Facebook
  • Helen Rider, Head of EMEA Sales, Moody’s
  • Brian Stanislas, Product Manager, Civil Service HR

Employer Insights

What is the business case for hiring returners?

  • “We hire returners because it makes business sense, not just because it is the right thing to do; we need returners!”
  • “It’s a key part of our talent strategy, as a customer obsessed company we want to represent the diversity of the community in which we operate.”
  • “It’s really hard to hire good people, with the right experience and with the right mindset.”
  • “The programme really makes a positive contribution to the organisation’s diversity.”
  • “Having a dedicated alternative talent channel ensures we are really accessing the full breadth of diverse talent available.”
  • “D&I is a lens through which we view everything we do.”
  • “Returners are an important aspect of improving gender diversity and helping us reduce our gender pay gap.”

What value have returners brought to the organisation?

  • “Returners bring a lot of determination and motivation to their roles. They have that extra oomph that they really want to prove themselves, and they bring a fresh perspective that is really valued.”
  • “Returners are really highly valued throughout the business. They are valued for the experience they have.”
  • “Their talents have been increased with their break in terms of learning other skills such as perseverance, communication, and flexibility.”
  • “Some returners may have had long breaks of 7+ years and may be returning after having lived abroad, raised a family, done voluntary work.”
  • “Returners offer very unique skills and experience.”
  • “We’ve always had a lot of buy-in, particularly from senior leadership, so that’s made a really big difference to us, as we have never had to convince hiring managers or leaders about the value of hiring returners. If you have a truly inclusive strategy you value people from all backgrounds and experiences.”
  • “We are now into our third year and both the business and the returners have got a lot from the programme.”
  • “We have seen the benefit and value of running a returner programme for 3 years in the US and are proud to be launching in EMEA.”
  • “So far 33 of the 35 who have joined the returnship programme have got permanent roles.”

What are the benefits of setting up a structured returner programme?

  • “It’s important to hire returners into the right roles and to have the right training and support when they arrive to allow them to maximise the opportunity.”
  • “The structure of the programme has been really valuable, for the business and for returners. A returnship gives the opportunity on both sides to try out.”
  • “It’s important that we create it as a programme, so that the mechanisms are in place to ensure not only are we hiring in returners, but also ensuring the environment they come into is supportive and inclusive, so they can thrive in their careers and have access to a support network.”
  • “A programme ensures we are being deliberate about hiring returners and are setting them up for success.”
  • “There is a lot of support on our programmes – some of that comes from the group joining together plus they have a structured induction programme, mentoring and coaching from Women Returners.”
  • “The coaching from Women Returners enables the returners to have someone from outside they can talk with, to help them regain their confidence.”

… and a few reflections specific to the pandemic

  • “All our returners joined virtually, none have been in the office at all, but we have still had a very successful programme and converted 90% of our returners.”
  • Our success during Covid has been down to flexibility, having understanding and checking in more with one another. Managers have a key role to play in setting returners up for success.”
  • “Due to the Coronavirus landscape the jolt of going back into the office, if you have been at home for some years, has gone away.”

If you’d like more information on our partnership consulting, promotional and coaching support to help you to design and deliver a successful returner programme, please contact Women Returners on