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2022 Winner: Citi’s Reactivate Your Career, Most Successful Returners Strategy Award

news published date 18 November 2022
  • Awards
Citi’s Reactivate Your Career is a fully-fledged, 12 to 18-month return-to-work programme, targeting mid-level (AVP) hires across all areas of the organisation.

Citi has created a fully supportive programme that helps candidates transition from a career break to a role in Financial Services by providing proper jobs, proper training, and open access – there is no expectation of previous experience in financial services and strong value is placed on diversity of thinking and experience gained in other industries and sectors.

The programme is targeted at those with a 2+ year career gap and offers returners a chance to join as part of a cohort of professionals, providing an immediate support network. Throughout the programme, the returners benefit from on-the-job training; professional qualifications (they spend 20% of their time on training); buddies from their business area; mentors; coaches; and regular informal Q&A sessions with programme leads and executive sponsors.

During the development of the programme, the team put returners at the centre of everything, researching all aspects of the experience of returning to work after a break, including challenges with childcare, starting dates, and onboarding. The team also found that returners did not always want to return to work in the same role or discipline as before their break. As a result of these insights, a supportive training programme was created that allows returners to develop new skills and build confidence as they return to work in new and varied roles.

One of the most challenging aspects was persuading hiring managers to take a chance on candidates who did not have “ready to go” skills for their specific role. This was overcome by presenting at senior management meetings across the organisation and explaining the benefits and structure of the programme. This roadshow created strong top-down support, and the programme now enjoys senior C-level sponsorship at the highest levels of the organisation and is also integrated into, and championed by, Citi’s global Inclusion & Diversity programme.

Most regional locations, including the initial London scheme (with three cohorts hired, and planning a fourth) target hiring 10-12 returners each year. This number was chosen for several reasons, including demand, but primarily it was to create a sustainable programme with a consistent number of places each year, whilst forming a friendly and close cohort to ensure the right degree of focus and attention from the programme team.

While no specific targets have ever been set for retention, the leadership team aims to maximise opportunities for returners, particularly after they have built up relationships during their programme. As such, a model has been established where with a minimum of three months remaining, all managers communicate to their returners whether they will be offered a permanent role in their team. For any returner who is not offered this opportunity, the programme leadership team then works with them for their remaining time to network inside the organisation with the goal of securing an alternative offer via internal mobility channels.

London’s pilot intake from March 2020 completed their programme in September 2021, and from an initial cohort of 12, one candidate resigned early in the programme for personal reasons, and the remaining 11 all found a role at Citi, with nine of those staying with their initial hiring manager. Additionally, since completing the programme in 2021, two of the 2020 returners have gone on to secure promotions within Citi.

The London 2021 cohort completed their programme in the last few weeks, with a similar retention rate of 10, from an initial 11, being offered roles at Citi, and one working towards an alternative offer.

Citi’s Reactivate Your Career programme has created a new channel for hiring and developing talent at the firm. Now in its third year, the programme has already demonstrated its value in the London office, bringing diversity and fresh talent into the organisation. While gender, ethnicity and other protected characteristics are important and are directly or indirectly addressed through the programme, cognitive diversity is a key driver for the programme, and it has brought diversity of thought, experience, and background to the organisation.

The success of the 2020 programme in London led to a global expansion of Reactivate Your Career during 2021 and 2022, into a total of 11 global locations, with some regions already on their second cohort. Citi is proud to have hired over 200 participants onto the programme worldwide, and plans to continue expanding into further regions during 2023.

“This programme has been life changing and the support received, invaluable. I have transitioned back into the workplace after a seven-year break incorporating existing skills as well as implementing the new knowledge gained during training into my day-to-day role.”

Samantha Guthrie, Operational Risk Senior Analyst 2020 Cohort, Citi