Recruiting women into senior positions has become an urgent priority for financial services companies in recent years. The industry is notoriously lacking in women at the top, which means these businesses are struggling with the gender pay gap. Could returnship programmes offer the solution and help women who have taken a career break to re-enter the workforce, bringing with them a wealth of skills and experience? Recently our chief executive, Juliet Turnbull, was quoted in an article by Financial News London. She talked about how, in her experience, HR departments in financial services firms avoid taking the time to consider those who have taken a career gap. Instead they favour candidates with unbroken track records who represent the safer option. “We are hardwired to read CVs from the top down,” Juliet told journalist Becky Pritchard. “HR departments dismiss too many great candidates by not reading their CVs properly. Recruitment teams are under a huge amount of pressure and I hear a lot of companies say: ‘Well, I will hire them if they are proven.’” The scope of the recruitment problem The article began by setting out the very real issues facing the financial services industry when it comes to gender diversity and inclusion. It quoted a report from think tank New Financial, which came out in March and concluded that companies need an increase of 12% in the number of women holding senior positions. To tackle this issue, over 330 financial services companies have signed the Women in Finance Charter. But in order to make real headway towards a solution, they need to think differently about the way they recruit women. Because the women are out there - but many of them have been or are on a career break. In fact, according to a PWC report quoted in the article, there are 550,000 professional women in the UK who, thanks to caring commitments, have stepped off the career ladder. Three quarters of those are keen to get back to work but current talent acquisition methods don’t serve their needs. Returnships: a positive step One answer lies in returnship programmes. These give people who have had a career break a chance to brush up on their skills in a real life work situation, to make contacts and get a foot in the door. They are also a great opportunity for employers to assess candidates who they may then wish to employ on an ongoing basis. Returnships can be hugely successful in helping companies address diversity issues. For example, pensions consultancy Redington reduced their gender pay gap from 21.6% to 0.2% in one year thanks to their returnship programme. The article did highlight the fact that some criticise returnship programmes for being ‘tick box exercises’ that don’t actually lead to anything. Pritchard quoted Stepahnie Dillon, managing director at Inclusivity Partners, who said: “A lot of returners feel that if there are no jobs at the end of it, there is no point in it… I do understand that but they are still in a stronger position.” And there are places where jobs are almost guaranteed. The returnship programme at JPMorgan has been running since 2015 and 80% of the women returners finish with a job for the company. Laetitia Craig, an executive director within the recruitment team, was quoted as saying: “We look at those candidates not as interns but as potential full-time hires.” Pushing the returner agenda forward The Financial News London article concluded that although returnships can be valuable, right now they are still being rolled out on too small a scale to make a big enough impact. And we agree. The financial services industry needs to rethink recruitment. Playing it safe by hiring only those who have no gaps in their CV is short-sighted. Those companies who see not only the value of the hidden talent pool of mothers but also take proactive steps to encourage them back into the workforce through returnship programmes are the ones who will succeed in the future. That’s why we advertise returnship programmes on the 2to3days website and also work closely with Inclusivity Partnerships to help our clients build returnship programmes that get results. We have worked with the likes of Barclays, Shell, Virgin Money, Lloyds Banking Group and the Home Office, all of whom have been thrilled with the calibre of the candidates that have applied via 2to3days. If your company would like to find out more, visit the returnships page or get in touch to speak to one of the team. And if you're looking out for your ideal job, make sure you're registered with 2to3days.
The gender pay gap is getting worse. Despite widespread efforts to address diversity and equality issues women are still being paid less than men. And not just less, but even less than before, with the gap widening in the last year. According to an article in the Sunday Times, on average women in the UK earned 90p for every £1 earned by men in 2018, in other words 10% less. The year before they earned 9.3% less. A small shift, maybe, but one that is going in the wrong direction. And some companies are doing an awful lot worse than that. Another Sunday Times article looked at four of the country’s high street banks - including HSBC, Lloyds, RBS and Barclays - all of which have pay gaps that are significantly more pronounced. Barclays came out bottom of the pile, with women earning just 57p for each £1 earned by a man. And although the ratio in their personal finance retail arm stood at 85p to every £1, that figure was down 1p on the year before. When it comes to high earners, the problem is much more marked. Taking a focus on those earning £150,000 or more, a third Sunday Times article reported that there are five times as many men in this income bracket than women - 295,000 compared to 61,000. Guidance from the government So what can employers do? A recently published government report has set out “evidence-based actions” that employers can take to reduce the gender pay gap and improve gender equality in organisations. Revolutionising recruitment Getting more women into organisations, especially at senior levels, is a vital step in closing the gender pay gap. Traditional recruitment methods are often biased - though not necessarily intentionally - which is why the report puts forward a number of tangible suggestions for making the process more fair. These include putting more than one woman on shortlists for recruitment and promotions, using skills-based assessment tasks to determine a candidate’s suitability, and choosing structured over unstructured interviews. By assessing potential employees based on what they can achieve and ensuring that each one is put through the same set of questions, it is easier to make a fair comparison between them, which reduces the likelihood of bias creeping in. Setting appropriate salaries The report also talked about salaries and how it isn’t just a case of paying men and women the same salary for the same job. Instead, transparency is essential in order to ensure that women are able to access salaries that allow them to close the gender pay gap. For example, women are less likely to negotiate on pay if they are unsure what pay scales are available to them. By being clear about these up front, these women will have a greater chance of negotiating reasonable remuneration. The same transparency should be applied to the “processes, policies and criteria for decision-making” when it comes to promotion, pay and rewards, according to the report. And in order to ensure that this is all happening, the report recommends that companies have an appointed diversity manager or task force - with responsibility, visibility and the ability to make and challenge decisions. Offering flexibility One of the biggest challenges facing women in the workforce is the need to balance their career with looking after children. Flexible working is a hugely powerful tool in addressing this, with a range of options from job sharing to home working, part-time roles to compressed hours. The report advises companies to advertise all roles as flexible and to encourage both men and women to take up flexible options so it isn’t seen as only a “female benefit”. Encouraging better uptake of parental leave is another suggestion to help reduce the number of women leaving the workforce at the point of motherhood. Employers should be making it clear to men that they have a legal right to request shared leave, and promote examples of senior leaders taking advantage of it in order to normalise the concept. And if women do take a career break to raise children, employers should consider options such as returnship programmes to help those returners get back to work when they’re ready. Returnships not only provide mothers with a chance to brush up on their skills, regain confidence and make contacts, they’re also an excellent way of companies making good recruitment decisions. Supporting women Whether returning to work after a career break or taking a step up the ladder into a traditionally male dominated space can be intimidating and unsettling. That’s why sponsorship and mentoring schemes can work well. By providing support for women who are progressing or want to progress in their careers, employers can maximise the chance of more senior positions being filled by females and therefore reduce their gender pay gap. Making a difference The report is clear that some of these actions are more effective than others, while some need more testing before we can fully appreciate the impact they will have. But the truth is that unless organisations take at least some positive action, the gender pay gap will not only remain but is likely to continue to widen. This is not just a problem for the women who are losing out on financial rewards. It is a big issue for companies who could not only face potential repercussions due to breaches of equality legislation, but also take a hit to their reputation and brand image. By overlooking flexibility, companies risk losing out not only on the skills, expertise and maturity that mothers can offer, but may well put off younger women entering the workforce who are thinking to the future and the opportunities that might be available to them. Women are no longer willing to settle for being labelled second rate. As a result, top female talent will be heading towards companies for whom gender equality is not just a tick box exercise. In the future, companies who don’t pay address the pay gap will risk losing out to those who are making significant progress. That’s why we work hard to champion the power of flexible working as a solution for both forward-thinking organisations and talented, experienced mothers who want to be fulfilled at work without compromising their family life. As we always say, 2to3days isn’t just a business, it’s a movement. Join us today!
Ensure your LinkedIn profile is a key ally in your search for flexible working with these top tips from award-winning City CV. You may have a love/hate relationship with social media, but LinkedIn is essential. It is the world’s largest professional network so you simply can’t afford to ignore it. Just take a look at these figures: 610 million users in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide 87% of recruiters use LinkedIn to find candidates for vacancies 94% of recruiters use LinkedIn to vet job candidates. But, LinkedIn is much more than a jobs board. It is also one of the most important and influential platforms for connecting with like-minded professionals, keeping up-to-date with industry news, and personal brand building. If you’re stepping back into your career after taking a break, or heading in a whole new direction, LinkedIn is the perfect place for your re-launch campaign. It takes some time and effort. You won’t transform into a globally recognised thought leader overnight. But, here are three ways you can use LinkedIn as a platform to run your own career marketing campaign. 1. Optimise your profile to make a great first impression You’ll need to do more than just cut and paste your old CV to be noticed on LinkedIn. Recruiters search for candidates based on specific keywords and algorithms. According to LinkedIn’s own figures, a complete profile, tailored to the jobs you want and including specific, search engine optimised keywords will get 132% more views. Most people don’t take the time to optimise their profile. That’s a big mistake. Here’s how to start. There are the certain words or phrases a recruiter types into LinkedIn when they are searching for candidates. Look at some job ads you’re interested in and make a list of the specific keywords used. They could be job titles, skills, knowledge or expertise that a company needs. Then, review your headline. Most people just throw in their current job title but LinkedIn allows 120 characters here, so use them all if you can. A powerful snapshot of your strengths, with appropriate keywords, will significantly increase the odds of people clicking on your profile. Sprinkling keywords throughout your profile will make it easier for recruiters to find you. But use them in a natural, engaging style. Your profile still needs to read as though it has been written by a human, for a human. A photo makes your profile seven times more likely to turn up in searches. It is worth investing in a professional shot. But, at the very least, make sure you look presentable and approachable. Use a plain background and face forward so you look like you are making eye contact. 2. Use LinkedIn as a learning tool If you’re taking a career break, it’s always a smart move to keep a foot in the door. LinkedIn is an easy and convenient way to keep up with developments in your field and maintain your professional network. That way, you’ll have the tools to navigate the challenges of returning to work and re-igniting your career in the future. 3. Be your own cheerleader You can use LinkedIn to become more visible in your chosen field. You have up to 2,000 characters for your summary section; use them wisely to tell a keyword optimised story that captures your personality. Your LinkedIn profile can reflect the tone, style and level of detail that best suits you and your audience. You can also add links to examples of your work. The more connections you have, the higher your LinkedIn ranking. That makes it easier for recruiters to find you. You can start by re-establishing contact with former colleagues and university friends. Social media is all about engagement and your LinkedIn profile should not be static. Take the opportunity to join industry or professional interest groups. You can build your credibility by posting updates, sharing articles and commenting on other members’ updates. When you share articles by or about people and their companies – be sure to tag them in your post. You can do this on LinkedIn as you would on Facebook or Twitter, by using the @ symbol before their name. This encourages people to share your posts, which will increase your profile views. If you want to showcase your more detailed expertise, you can write and publish your own content. This can help boost your presence on the network and establish you as a thought leader or industry expert. Remember, you can make the posts more engaging with images and videos. LinkedIn is a valuable and convenient tool to help you get your career back on track after a break. But it’s not as easy as just setting up a profile and leaving it there. To stand out on LinkedIn, you need to showcase your range of skills, expertise and experiences, not just create a boring list of job titles. Career Returners Career returners can actually have an advantage here. By including your career break activities - voluntary work, interests or boards you sit on – you can demonstrate the new skills you’ve gained. That could be how to cope under pressure, multi task, evaluate information, make decisions and build networks. But, remember to keep your profile relevant to a professional audience. Even if you’re not actively job hunting, don’t underestimate the power of LinkedIn. It’s definitely worth taking the time to ensure you’re using every opportunity it offers to create a powerful network and learn from established experts in your field. This will provide you with the perfect platform to share your expertise, make connections and boost your personal brand, ready for when you decide to re-launch your career. If you want more LinkedIn advice check out the nine most common mistakes you'll want to avoid to ensure you stand out on this platform for all the right reasons. We're thrilled to be working with City CV on a series of webinars designed exclusively for our mothers in the 2to3days hood. Our aim is to help you present your skills and experience so you feel really proud and confident of your CV and LinkedIn profile when applying for jobs. Make sure you're signed up to our newsletter to be the first to hear about future events and webinars. SIGN UP NOW
How to support your Line Manager to love the fact you work flexibly! Perhaps you need to start later in order to do the morning school runs. Or you want to work three longer days so you can spend precious time with your young children on the other two. Whatever the reason, it’s not something you can easily do without your line manager’s support. While all employees who have been working for an employer for 26 weeks or more have the right to request flexible working, the reality is that getting buy-in can take a bit of work. But don’t worry, we’ve got plenty of experience on that front. Remember that it’s not just for your benefit When it comes to negotiating flexible working, remember that this isn’t just about you. While your employer hopefully does care about your wellbeing, they also have a duty to the business. So the best way to approach a flexible working request is to set out the business benefits. And there are lots of them! For a start, offering flexible options gives businesses a real competitive advantage for attracting and retaining top talent. Think about it - if you had two job roles open to you, one that was flexible and one that wasn’t, which would you choose? But that’s not all. For larger companies, flexible working can help tackle diversity issues by encouraging more women into the workplace while also addressing the gender pay gap by allowing women to rise to more senior roles. And then there’s the fact that home working can allow businesses to downsize their offices, saving money on overheads while creating a more agile workforce. Whether you’re approaching your current line manager or going for an interview, remember to make the business case for the flexible working options you’re negotiating for. And be prepared to explore all the options so that you can find a middle ground where both your needs and those of the business are being equally served. Show your line manager they can trust you It’s our opinion that employers should, by default, trust their members of staff. After all, why would you hire someone if you thought they were going to start slacking off the moment your back was turned? As Ernest Hemingway is reported to have said, “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” But trust is also a two-way street and is something that we can accelerate through our actions. If your line manager offers to trial home working for a set period, for example, make sure you reassure them appropriately. That could be by checking in at set times, agreeing to keep an online log of work completed or using project tracking software to keep them in the loop. Keep communicating with key stakeholders We’ve found that line managers can sometimes struggle with overseeing flexible teams because it undermines their feeling of being in control. If the employees they’re responsible for are all working in different ways, on different days and across different locations, how can they be sure that the work is really getting done and getting done properly? The key to dealing with these worries is to ensure that there is regular communication between you as a flexible employee and both your line manager and other members of your team. It’s important that expectations are established in advance and that there are project management tools in place that allow everyone to check in on progress whenever they need to. Your line manager might find it easier to give you flexibility over your hours if you track them on a timesheet, for example. Or it might be easier for them to monitor your home working if you’re able to agree set output targets or project deadlines. Remember, communication goes both ways - if you can’t pop over to your line manager’s desk to ask them a quick question because they’re not in the same room as you, you need to ensure there is some way of getting your answers. There are plenty of great apps for this, such as Trello and Slack, not to mention WhatsApp. Help them to understand flexible working better When it comes to flexible working, every company - and every line manager - will sit somewhere on a spectrum. At the one extreme there are those that are passionately embracing this hugely beneficial way of working. At the other there are the risk averse organisations that haven’t fully understood the business benefits it can bring. If you’re already in a role then you’ll probably know where your employer sits. If they’re at the less flexible end then it could be that they simply need educating about the benefits that flexible working can bring. Because as we’ve already seen, there are plenty. These businesses may well be operating under the assumption that changing the way they work will be too difficult, expensive or time consuming to be worth it. Perhaps they think flexible means working less when actually it means working differently. At 2to3days we’re passionate about supporting mothers to find roles that help them use their skills and experience and find fulfilment at work without having to compromise on their family life. That’s why we’ve created Managing flexible teams: The Ultimate Guide for Line Managers. If you’re keen to encourage your workplace to be more flexible, why not flag it up for your line manager’s attention? It may be the start of a whole new way of working. And do have a read of it yourself. You’re far more likely to secure a flexible working arrangement if you understand your line manager’s perspective and know how to best support them in creating a culture of flexibility. Have you joined the 2to3days hood? We’re on a mission to get mothers into fulfilling flexible roles that use their skills and experience without forcing them to compromise on their home life. So far 28,000 people have joined our movement. If you’re not yet one of them, join today.