Prior to the pandemic, women made up less than half of the U.S. workforce. And a year after the COVID-19 outbreak, 2.4 million women have left the workforce. These women who left often did so to raise children, run a household, give elder care, and provide home schooling among other reasons. Many of them are now looking to return.
The pandemic has permanently shifted the employment landscape. Offering remote work is now a must have, if leading companies want to compete for the very best talent. This is especially true for difficult-to-reach returner talent. LinkedIn reported that 2% of all jobs listings were for remote roles pre-pandemic. That number has jumped to 10% since, with communication and tech jobs leading the way at 27% and 22% of job listings respectively.
The proof of the desire for remote roles is in the numbers, as these jobs attract 7 times more applicants than in-person roles.
The war for talent is on, and using strategies like offering fully remote roles can help companies attract a wider range of qualified talent, including highly qualified women who have left the workforce for a period of time and are ready to return.
Untapped But Highly Qualified
Women returners represent a wealth of highly skilled, available talent in a wide range of skills and expertise. These women have often established extensive experience but simply left their job to take a break for many number of legitimate reasons. But there are many systemic biases within standard recruiting processes that make it extremely difficult for them to even land an interview for a role they could easily do.
Returners from Women Back to Work, for example, have many years of experience in skills like coding, marketing, web development, UI/UX, HR, accounting, and more.
Given their experience, they are highly qualified for the jobs. Yes, they might need to brush up in some areas of design or a certain coding language, but they can easily ramp up and contribute as well as any other employee, given the chance.
Women returners are skilled and talented candidates who are likely not applying to your jobs. Or if they do apply, they get overlooked due to the gap in their work history. This makes re-entering the workforce difficult for these women despite the immense value, skill, and talent they can offer.
Improve Gender Diversity
It’s no longer a secret that a diverse workforce is a competitive advantage. Multiple studies have shown that diversity results in more creative solutions to problems, increased sales and higher revenue, a better ability to attract and retain talent, and a better brand image. A diverse workforce is a must if you want to compete. And hiring more women who have taken a career break is a proven way to increase employee diversity.
The goal of gender diversity within the workplace is to provide equal access to opportunities, resources, and rewards, especially when it comes to women. The result of having a gender diverse workplace is a better company reputation and more creative solutions due to the unique life experiences of men and women.
Masters of Multi-Tasking
Often, individuals with a gap in their work history face systematic hurdles when trying to return to the workplace. The bias is the wrong notion that their skills are diminished or that they must not be dedicated workers. Both are far from the truth. In fact, taking a career break can help individuals gain skills while they tend to whatever it was that pulled them away.
Returning mothers often bring valuable, transferable skills from both previous roles and their time out fromof the workplace. This can include skills gained from coordinating complex initiatives such as homeschooling pods, project management (think school science fair), large community projects, and even fundraising.
During this time, returners often learn effective time-management skills, improve their productivity, purpose, and even networking abilities. Juggling everything from schedules to teams to meals to household chores are things all of us have done to help us function more effectively and efficiently at work.
Empathy, Mark of a Capable Leader
Many studies have shown that empathy is the mark of a true and capable leader. People who are empathic can connect easily on an emotional level with their colleagues and reports which gains trust and enables them to get the most out of their work relationships.
Being accommodating to, and respectful of, people’s needs to take time off promotes well-being. Honoring this need and encouraging colleagues to take time off helps promote physical health, mental health, and overall life satisfaction. This is something women returners understand well because they have learned the significance and value it brings, from their own experience having left the workforce and struggled to return.
At the end of the day, the time professionals have taken out of the workforce is NOT a weakness. We have seen again and again the amazing abilities and accomplishments of the women in the Women Back to Work program.
If you wish to learn more about it, contact us at Women Back to Work. We’ll be happy to answer your questions and possibly partner with you in helping your organization hire talented and skilled women returners back into the workforce, for their benefit and yours.