New research* has found three quarters (75%) of female job-seekers believe taking timeout has negatively impacted their career prospects and chances of progression.The research was commissioned by The Return Hub, an executive search firm which specialises in helping senior women return to the financial services sector after a career break.
Despite employers publicly taking steps to address the imbalance of women in City firms, over half of respondents (56%) state the financial services sector simply isn’t interested in creating a diverse workforce and two thirds (68%)cite a reluctance from employers to hire someone with a CV gap.
Three out of five (60%) respondents stated that prospective employers see them as less committed because they’ve had a career break. This suggests that senior leadership and hiring managers need to change their recruiting strategies to address both conscious and unconscious biases towards people with differing experiences to their own.
Dominie Moss, Founder of The Return Hub said: “For some time, CEOs have been saying they are working to combat a lack of diversity in the Square Mile and beyond, yet two-thirds of our candidates feel that employers are reluctant to hire them. Clearly something isn’t adding up. Hiring managers need to be incentivised to employ people who don’t fit into what’s considered typical, and that includes those who’ve had time out to pursue other interests. We have around 2,000 women on our books who are raring to go but are struggling to secure the top level jobs that they are more than able and qualified to do.”
Four out of five women (88%) surveyed agree that taking time out has taught them valuable transferable skills, including increased emotional intelligence (77%) and management skills (58%). Despite this, seven out of ten (76%) feel time away dented their confidence, which over a quarter (26%) believe to be a key barrier to returning to work.
Return ships,which are offered by many of the City’s top employers, are being touted as the answer to this issue. However, over a quarter (26%) of respondents who had taken part in such a programme felt they were ineffective.
Dominie Moss adds: “Return ships are a good step in the right direction, but not the whole answer. Whilst effective for some, many of them fail to result in permanent jobs. If firms are to close the gender pay gap and have access to diverse talent, there must be a rapid evolution of these schemes so that more employers include desk ready returners in their business as usual hiring strategies.”