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2023 Shortlist: Most Successful Returners Strategy Award

news published date 9 October 2023
  • Awards

Following our announcement on 14 September, we are delighted to share the remaining details of the shortlisted nominees for the corporate awards, with the companies for the Most Successful Returners Strategy Award listed here. But before we do, here’s a reminder of the category:

As a sector where women are significantly underrepresented in the workforce at senior levels, it is worrying that too few firms sponsor a returners strategy as part of their overall recruitment approach. Submissions must highlight the drivers to implementing the strategy, how it is sponsored and communicated (both within the organisation and externally), how it has developed and progressed since inception and how it is part of a longer-term strategic approach to D&I.

But why did these company initiatives make the shortlist? Below we include a brief summary of each submission so you can see why could become industry best practice.

Bank of EnglandThe Bank of England’s Career Returner Programme aims to attract talented professionals, who have taken a career break of two years or more by offering six-month returnships at mid-senior levels with the potential of subsequent permanent roles. The programme has a conversion rate of returnships to permanent roles of over 90%, as well as career progression successes.

It combines learning and development interventions with practical work responsibilities, allowing returners to rapidly learn and apply their skills, while offering them a supportive environment to rebuild their professional identity and confidence, and develop a career within the bank. Starting in 2018 with 14 of the 15 returners made permanent, the programme has since grown and has seen saw 41 returners join across 14 business areas.

CitiThe winner of the 2022 Most Successful Returners Strategy Award, Citi has used its submission to showcase its programme which was developed on the back of significant market research and by listening to returners. The 18-month programme has a track record of offering substantive jobs with competitive compensation and benefits from recruits that have diverse backgrounds and experiences, without the expectation of familiarity for the financial services industry.

Supported by a dedicated programme and HR team, the success of between 2020 and 2022 mean that the programme is now present in 14 international locations and will have resulted in the recruitment of 300 returners by the end of 2023.

Fidelity InternationalFidelity International’s returner programmes have been an important part of the firm’s overall talent strategy since 2016. Initially starting in the technology space, the initiative has since expanded as the 10 consecutive programmes cover many of the firms’ departments and reach beyond the UK.

The organisation offers a variety of 6-month returnships and supported hiring into permanent roles, with programmes sponsored by a member of the global operating committee and run in partnership with women returners who provide tailored career returner coaching to returners, as well as training and support to recruiters and line managers.

Some 80-90% of returnships convert into permanent roles and Fidelity also participates in the Diversity Project Cross Company Returner Programmes.

Lloyds Banking GroupHaving started recruiting over 150 returners since 2016, 2022 was Lloyds’ most successful year to date bringing onboard 39 highly-skilled professionals into permanent roles in a single year.

90% of returners are women and 60% are Black Asian or Minority Ethnic, supporting the bank’s goal to ensure its teams reflect the society it serves. And it’s a programme that has expanded year on year from the first year’s single annual cohorts’ 16-week placement (that could turn into a permanent role) to making returner roles available nationwide in 2021. In 2022, the team scaled up to multiple annual cohorts and made the roles permanent from day one, and in 2023, moved to a business-as-usual model, allowing an uncapped number of returners to join when it suits them.

JPMorgan Chase & Co.Now in its 10th year, the ReEntry Program offers experienced professionals, who are have had an extended career break of at least two years, the support and resources needed to relaunch their careers.

The 15-week paid fellowship programme consists of professional skills workshops, on-the-job training, coaching and development support to help participants prepare for a long-term career. The high performing participants who successfully complete the scheme are recruited into full-time positions within the firm.

Since 2013, there have been more than 400 hires in our ReEntry Program across 35 cities in 8 countries, with an average placement rate over the 10 years of over 80% and retention after placement of over 70%.

St. James’s PlaceThe St. James’s Place Financial Adviser Academy actively promotes diversity and inclusivity, offering comprehensive training to individuals regardless of their background. It has successfully targeted women returners by partnering with relevant organisations, leading to female participants making up 25% of the cohorts compared to the industry norm of 16%

The Academy’s strengths lie in its commitment to ongoing support for graduates. Dedicated Academy development managers and mentors guide participants during their first two years, while a buddy system and peer networks create lasting friendships and support groups.

The programme takes a broad view of training, emphasising skills development and client interactions alongside qualifications – an approach that means the Academy has also contributed to closing the gender gap in the advice profession.