Back to work with a fresh perspective

Employers who run returner programmes spoke about the benefits at this year’s Women Returners conference.

Women in a suit smiling at work


Employers want to attract people who can bring a fresh perspective and ideas when returning to work, a returner conference heard this week.

Women Returners annual conference heard from a range of employers who run returner programmes. The programme included two employer panels with employers such as Bloomberg, Amazon Web Services and JP Morgan.

Employers spoke about how they saw returner programmes as a key part of their diversity strategy backed by senior leaders and supported by an inclusive culture. Brian Stanislas from the Civil Service said returner programmes helped employers address the gender pay gap and hire a more diverse range of talent.

Tace Heuston, Head of Asset & Wealth Management Talent Institute EMEA at JP Morgan, encouraged returners to think of their transferable skills and what makes them unique. She advised returners to acknowledge their career break, show employers what they bring to the table and avoid underselling themselves. Paula Leach Chief People Officer, FDM, which retrains people, said returners shouldn’t be worried about lacking technical skills. Skills can be taught, she said. What matters more is a positive, proactive attitude. 

Zoe Copley, EMEA Head of Employee Compliance, Credit Suisse, advised returners to be adaptable and keep an open mind. It’s all about getting a foot in the door and networking, she said. As a returner herself, she said it was important to be realistic, to be kind to yourself and to get support. “People come back on a high and that drops off in week two. Everyone goes through a cycle and you have to ride it out and keep positive,” she said. Samina Malik, Supplier Manager at O2, is another returner. She said returners bring motivation and the “extra oomph” that comes from wanting to prove themselves. She reassured returners at the conference: “It all comes back naturally. You are very capable. Don’t underestimate the transferable skills that you have gained on your break. You bring a fresh perspective and ask questions. You just need to believe in yourself.”

The employer panels took place on the last day of the conference which also saw sessions on practical issues such as how to market yourself on LinkedIn – including showing you are open to job offers and engaging as much as possible on the platform – and how to write your CV. Returners were told that their CVs should make the business case for hiring them rather than being a chronicle of their life and that there was no need to hide or a apologise for a career break.  


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