Throughout my career, I have been passionate about the promotion of women. I’ve worked in financial services for over twenty years, firstly as a commodities trader before I moved into executive search and whilst working in this field, I started to see the gap in City firms’ workforces – women and importantly, senior women.
My lightbulb moment came after a conversation with an HR Director at a US investment bank. She told me about their Returnship programme where some 400 returners were applying for a handful of roles. This struck a nerve. On the one hand, there was this pool of highly, qualified talent, eager to return to work that was being overlooked. On the other hand, City employers had been crying out for more women. I knew there was room to create a new type of recruitment business that would ‘marry’ the two.
In 2016, after thoroughly researching the market, I established The Return Hub, a unique recruitment firm designed to connect those (predominantly women) returning from a career break with financial services organisations. We now have a network of over 3000 returners and numerous financial services firms that we consider partners.
The talented women that we meet at The Return Hub motivate me, as does the need to change outdated practices. They have such great knowledge of the industry, expertise and extensive networks that they can leverage; they are poised to make positive change within organisations across the City. I am committed to ensuring as many women as possible can see their true value and can have a clearer pathway to relaunching their careers and fulfilling their potential.
When we meet our candidates at The Return Hub, we often hear questions like: “Am I still relevant?” “Will my qualifications be current enough?” “Will my experience count?” Many of these people have incredibly distinguished careers but have a misplaced lack of confidence at the thought of returning. Women tend to think that the City has moved on at such a pace and believe that they will be out of their depth, but because we stay in touch with our candidates once they’ve started their new role and help with the transition, we know that typically this is not the case. Within weeks returners realise that their experience both pre career break and during is invaluable and that they can make a positive impact in their new role very quickly.
We are lucky enough to work with member firms who have an understanding of the high value, business case for recruiting from this untapped pool of talent. Employers need to consider a cultural and structural shift when it comes to shaking up their traditional recruitment processes. Diversity has become such a regular part of vocabulary, that for some employers it can represent just a ‘tick box exercise’. For firms that are invested in a more strategic, long-term approach, they understand that diversity will yield great dividends.
We know that there is still a severe lack of women in financial services and Gender Pay Gap reporting clearly highlights this. Where firms need help to reassess their hiring practices and to recognise the value proposition this group represents, we help to support them. We provide additional training, coaching and consultancy services designed to bring together HR, D&I, L&D and marketing initiatives to help implement a joined-up strategy. By tapping into this pool of talent we are taking positive action and ultimately moving the needle on the number of women working in the City and in senior roles within the industry.
The Return Hub has been called a ‘disruptive’ force within City Recruitment which, for me, is an endorsement of what we’re doing and gives me great pride. It motivates me to carry on disrupting! I am now a regular speaker on the subject of women returners and help to advise the government on gender diversity and recruitment in the City and the impact of what we’re achieving.
We have made great progress to date but there is still work to be done which is why we continue our campaign #TimeToReturn.
The Return Hub is a unique recruitment and consultancy firm placing highly qualified, skilled and talented senior professionals back into work after a career break or pivot. They cover a wide range of sectors and roles within Financial Services and also advise on and implement practical strategies that companies can use to target, assess, hire, and support diverse and returning talent. They partner with global FTSE 100 companies as well as SMEs, family offices and start-ups. To find out more about The Return Hub, visit their website https://www.thereturnhub.com/
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