The Returnship "Experiment" is Over - Time to Commit
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The Returnship “Experiment” is Over; Time to Commit

By Allyson Holbrook, reacHIRE CMO

Over the past few years, Corporate America has seen a steady increase in companies experimenting with return to work programs for returning women. Companies continue to dip their proverbial toe in the water, one returnship at a time. From Silicon Valley tech giants to Wall Street stalwarts and emerging growth innovators, companies are increasingly interested in the enormous talent pool of experienced professional women on the sidelines today that could contribute to a more financially lucrative tomorrow.

But there’s something all companies should know: It’s time to stop experimenting with returnship programs for women. The conclusion has already been reached. Hiring returning women works.

At reacHIRE, we know this first hand. The returning women we’ve trained and placed back into the workforce boast an incredibly high retention rate. Whether they are hired full time, or for ongoing project assignments, returning women are driven and drive real results.

While every company takes its own approach to creating and deploying diversity initiatives that meet the needs of their organization, commitment is the number one necessity for all. You have to be in it, to win it.

So let’s agree on three things:

  1. Returning women aren’t an experiment. They are a hidden asset when deployed the right way. With the right ammunition they can have a significant impact on organizations. Women who leave the workforce to raise a family or care for a loved one don’t lose their intelligence, their value, their education, their capability, their experience or their passion. In fact, their skills are even more developed than before,  When these women are given a pathway back, they don’t walk, they run. It’s a theory we see proven every day. While companies may still elect to initiate pilot programs aimed at hiring returning women, we hope we’ll see less of the word “experiment.” 
  2. Look at the potential of returning women, not the risk. Any employee, of any gender, hired at any age can pose a risk for a company – the recent college graduate, the relocated worker, the executive poached from a rival firm. No one can truly predict how these individuals (returning women or others) will perform in their new position, or even if they’re a good match for the company. There’s always a “ramp up” period. We don’t like to think about risk when we hire people because we instead consider opportunity and business benefit. We see value. 
  3. We all need to get on board in seeing the value of this talent pool, believing in the women, and creating successful on-ramps to enable them to succeed — to “stick.” That’s when more women will be able to seamlessly re-enter the workforce.

Our biggest recommendation? Keep innovating. Continuing this conversation is incredibly important. It is good for women, for business, and for society. We need to keep talking with honesty and intention so we can empower our talent and create and support new ways to deliver real progress and bottom-line results.