Credit Suisse: Real Returns for both business and mothers

05 Oct 2014

mothers returning 300x200Many companies suffer a female ‘brain drain’ in middle and senior management. In response to this challenge, Credit Suisse piloted its Real Returns initiative, looking to increase the number of women returning to work after maternity. Juliette Aplin of Credit Suisse reports on the project.

For new mothers, how long is ‘too long’ to be out of the office? At what point do they feel like they have ‘missed out’ or ‘lost touch’ with workplace developments?

Research findings from the Work Family Show indicate that one in five working mothers feels less confident about their professional abilities after a period off for maternity leave. And yet, companies across all industries are really suffering the effects of a female ‘brain drain’ at the middle and senior management levels.

Credit Suisse’s Real Returns initiative looks to tap into this unique talent pool of women looking to return to the workplace. As Julianne Miles, co-founder of Women Returners explains: “Bringing women back to senior-level roles meets the pressing business need to re-fill the leaky female talent pipeline.”

Credit Suisse’s inaugural ‘Real Returns’ initiative was the first of its size in the UK, with 16 participants completing a 10-week assignment at the bank. This programme was specifically targeted towards people who had temporarily left employment in order to care for children or parents, but were now ready to re-enter the workplace. Credit Suisse offered them a short-term assignment as a way of testing the feasibility of a return and helping re-build professional networks and skills.

Credit Suisse’s Real Returners worked on important business projects in one of the bank’s business areas. In addition to this, the programme included various training sessions to ease participants back into the work environment, including refresher training on recent business and regulatory changes. There was also a strong focus on supporting participants to broaden their professional network, with various opportunities to develop new relationships with senior leaders across the bank.

Helena Fernandes, EMEA Head of Internal Mobility, explains: “One of our goals was to bring our Real Returners together as a group so they could provide support to each other. You cannot overestimate the effect of a support network of people who are going through similar experiences. There’s a very strong community spirit.”

Those running the programme at Credit Suisse were really pleased with the calibre of the women the programme has attracted, as Alan Frewer, Director of Talent Acquisition and Development commented: “It is a really engaged group. They are talented, experienced, professional women… with anywhere from 10 to 25 years’ experience.”

With 94% of the participants having now accepted permanent or contractor roles at the bank, the initiative has truly demonstrated the ‘win-win’ solution that such a program can provide for both business and women returners. As Kirsty How, EMEA Head of IB Recruitment, explains: “The project is an opportunity for us to get to know this talent pool, and for the women it is an opportunity to assess whether they’d like to come back on a full-time basis.” Several of the offered roles have elements of flexibility.

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