Changing perceptions, increasing diversity and appealing to women are top of the agenda for international sports-betting and gaming operator Paddy Power Betfair. You don’t need to be a sports-mad gambling enthusiast to work at international betting operator Paddy Power Betfair but this incorrect perception has hindered the company’s recruitment of women. That’s set to change, with the business launching campaigns to dispel myths about its culture and promote its openness to flexibility. The move includes the publication of a series of adverts and videos featuring members of the team and their passions – from a magician to white collar boxers and singers. The “I am Paddy Power Betfair” series has already featured online and in newspapers and magazines in London, Dublin, Malta, Romania and Portugal. “Our goal is to improve gender balance in the company and one of the barriers we face is attracting more women to apply for our open roles” says Talent Director Charlotte Steel. It is early days, but the campaign is already having an impact on the numbers of women applying. Currently, 30% of the company’s workforce is female. “Around 30% of our applications come from women and around 30% of our hires are women. The data suggests increasing the number of applications will improve our chances of hiring more women,” says Steel. “It’s not essential for candidates to have a background in the industry. Like many businesses, our strategy is to create growth, and to grow you need to differentiate, and to differentiate you need to innovate and to innovate you need diversity in all forms.” Paddy Power Betfair is a FTSE 100 company and employees receive the high-end benefits associated with that status – including share schemes and bonus opportunities. However, Steel says the business has the culture similar to a start-up: fast-paced and ever-changing, where those keen to innovate can thrive. “Our junior members of staff have day to day exposure to senior leaders because of the relatively flat structure and non-hierarchical culture of the organisation. If you work hard, are smart, have good ideas and can prove yourself there are opportunities for you,” she says. Flexibility is a key element of the push to recruit more women and the business launched its ‘Flex Appeal’ campaign last year to make sure staff are aware of the options available. This formalised already-high levels of informal flexibility that existed in the company. The business launched a menu of flexible working options, with home working and flexi-time available in all roles and other options such as part-time and job sharing available for some positions. “Our aspiration is for flexibility to be a feature of how we work, embedded in our culture as the norm,” says Steel. Flexibility is not seen as an accommodation only for mothers. “We believe everyone can benefit from a bit of flexibility in their life. You might want to start at 9.30am because you have a gym class before work, or leave the office at 5pm for football practice,” she says. “One colleague works three days and the rest of the week attends university to study counselling and psychotherapy. There is flexibility for everyone.” On top of this, the firm has reviewed policies to ensure they are family-friendly, challenged recruiters to provide balanced shortlists and partnered with organisations such as Girls in Tech and the Makers Academy to help train women and access pools of talent. “Becoming a new mum has meant my priorities in life have changed. But that doesn’t mean my career ambitions are any less,” says Head of Brand Planning Emer McCarthy. “I love what I do and having children has given me a new appreciation and a new drive for my job. Flexible working hours allow me to achieve a work-life balance, whilst keeping my career on track.” Paddy Power Betfair has a range of roles available across finance, HR, technology, marketing, commercial and products in both London and Dublin. Experience of the industry is not essential, with behaviour and values central to the recruitment process. Steel says a ‘can do’ attitude; an appetite for a challenge; a smart, inquisitive nature; and a collaborative approach are most important. “We’re looking for people who have ideas and are passionate about making things better but have a low ego and work well in a team,” she says. “Staff engagement in our business is high on a number of dimensions, and particularly high around peer to peer relationships – people like each other, it’s a friendly place and there are high levels of trust which is something we’re proud of.” Successful candidates into senior roles can expect development opportunities, with annual feedback accompanied by 1:1 coaching sessions with external coaches. The firm offers leadership and management training programmes and high-potential women are sponsored by senior leaders in a bid to accelerate their progress in the company. With roles currently available in London and Dublin, it’s time to take a gamble and apply.
On a career break and want to get back to work, but don’t know where to start? All too frequently we hear from mothers on a career break describing that their route back to work isn’t as plain sailing as they hoped it would be when you’ve got a gap on your CV. Perhaps you can relate to these common career-break concerns and the challenges of re-entering the workplace after leaving an established career: Feeling judged for taking time out to focus on family A loss of confidence or feeling ‘out of practice’ and unsure of yourself Convinced that there are younger, more ambitious women out there who are better poised to do the job Feeling out of touch and behind on the latest technology and market trends Potential employers will dismiss you when applying for roles because of long gaps on your CV Feeling it’s unlikely you’ll return to the same level of seniority or pay as before your break The good news is that gender diversity is still a top priority across the UK. Business leaders are recognising that not everyone has a traditional career path and are therefore seeking out return-to-work programmes as a compelling and effective way to recapture this ‘lost’ talent in the workforce. WHERE DID THE ‘RETURNSHIP’ START? A little over a decade ago, the first return to work programme was introduced by Goldman Sachs in the U.S. who trademarked the term “Returnship”. Today there are more than 160 diverse companies across the globe investing in return-to-work programmes. In 2018, the UK market saw just short of 50 programmes launched or repeated. WHAT EXACTLY IS A RETURN TO WORK PROGRAMME? Each company structures their programme slightly differently and they all have varying names such as KPMG’s Return to Tax & Pensions programme or The Reignite Academy for lawyers. You can expect the following: A higher-level internship for experienced individuals (men and women) who have taken voluntary, extended time out from their careers and are now interested in re-igniting their field of expertise or professional career back in the workplace The duration is variable but many run over a 3-6 month period Typically, they are fixed-term contracts, offering remuneration commensurate with experience They aim to provide support, training and mentorship, helping individuals reacquaint themselves with the culture and pace of the present work environment and improve skills that may have become a bit rusty They don’t guarantee long-term employment, rather offering the possibility of a permanent role at the end of the programme. Success rate is high (between 50 -100 % are offered permanent employment) after enrolling on a programme and many companies offer some level of flexibility, recognising the need to continue to fulfil your family commitments HOW DO YOU QUALIFY? Each company will set up specific criteria for applicants but there are a few generally accepted requirements that apply to most of the current UK returnship programmes: A career break of at least 2 years, although recently some do now allow you to apply if you are currently working but not making the best use of your skills and experience A specific level of experience, obviously with the understanding that you may be a bit rusty and oftentimes also a minimum educational or professional qualification IT’S A WIN-WIN SITUATION Returnships offer a practical solution to help companies stay competitive by attracting, retaining and supporting a group of highly-qualified, experienced and motivated professionals. Return on investment is extremely high – companies broaden female representation at multiple levels, reinforce their commitments to diversity and flexibility and ultimately it leads to improved overall business results. As a mother, you benefit from improving your skills and capabilities that may have been languishing at home for a few years. Your gaps in technology advancements or knowledge base will be brought up to speed in a supportive environment. Importantly, your confidence will be boosted with dedicated coaching, training sessions and mentoring – everything you need to re-acclimatise to the current working environment. WHERE TO NEXT? Momentum is building, but there are still plenty of opportunities for more businesses to get on board. Forward-thinking companies know that the calibre of mothers returning to work is high, their work ethic and loyalty unwavering. That’s why 2to3days has partnered with Inclusivity Partners to better understand how companies can set more of these programmes up to for success and attract the best candidates (yes, that’s you!). To help us achieve this, we’d love you to tell us what you think about return-to-work programmes by completing this short survey. Together, we’ll help to remove the fear of taking time out for family and give you the confidence that pausing on your working commitments is not an insurmountable obstacle. The more returnships we can support, the more you can feel encouraged to take that career break, knowing your skills and experience will be highly valued by potential employers when you are ready to return.