Investment bank launches ‘Returning Talent’ scheme for mums

Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BoAML) has launched a ‘Returning Talent’ scheme for parents who have been absent from the workplace for three or more years.

The pilot scheme targets mums and dads who achieved mid- to senior-level positions in business prior to taking a career break to care for their children.

Places on the free executive coaching programme are being advertised through a partnership with parenting website Mumsnet.

Michelle Fullerton, head of diversity and inclusion at BofAML, explained that she chose to work with the advice website because it could reach an “untapped pool of talent of women”.

The training is designed to bolster confidence and prepare parents to re-enter the labour market.

“This is a group of women, and men, that we want to support back into work,” Fullerton said. “Women are particularly underrepresented in our industry (banking) and we wanted to do something unique that would get to harder-to-reach women.”

The employer is one of the first in the UK to specifically target this group for recruitment. Fullerton said that investment bank Goldman Sachs runs a similar scheme in America, but that it was more comparable to an internship than executive coaching.

“When we decided to run the pilot we asked ourselves: ‘How would women who might have been out of work for five years start thinking about going back into a career?’ Often they won’t do anything about it, or they might go back to a much lower grade because their confidence is low and they don’t think they have the right skill set.”

But Fullerton said that this group of people often have a diversity of skills that are missing from the workplace. By encouraging women to return to work they hope to refresh the talent pipeline that feeds into senior management and boardroom roles, she added.

“When we were discussing the pilot, there were comments from within the business about having seen how well the school Parent Teacher Association is run by women in this group. One manager told me: ‘I’d be delighted to take some of them on to work for me as a business leader.’”

She said that the scheme’s return on investment for the bank is high because not only does it raise the profile of the firm’s employer brand and their work on diversity and inclusion, it is also an opportunity to recruit talented people. It is also important because “a lot of our clients are women and they will see that we value their role as mothers and workers”.

There will be 20 people on the initial pilot which consists of a three-day workshop that will give attendees access to employees and experts from BoAML.

“We hope that all of them return to work after this coaching, whether with us or another organisation,” she said.

Course applications close on Monday 28 of May.

Paul Champion

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Twitter: @blogapprentice
Skype: paulchampion31

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