Vodafone launches global returner initiative

woman smiling and looking at a book in an office space


Vodafone has announced a global programme to recruit 1,000 women who have taken a career break.

Vodafone says its ReConnect programme is designed to attract talented women who have left the workplace for several years who would like to return to work on a full-time or flexible basis but are struggling to make the professional connections needed or refresh the skills required. The programme will operate across 26 countries – with a target of 1,000 ReConnect recruits within three years. The new programme follows on from the company’s global maternity programme which won Vodafone the Workingmums.co.uk’s Top Employer Award for Innovation.

Under the ReConnect programme, up to 500 women on career breaks will be recruited into management roles over the next three years, which Vodafone says will make up around 10% of all Vodafone external management hires over that period. In addition, Vodafone will recruit up to 500 women on career breaks into a range of frontline roles.

The programme is based on research commissioned by Vodafone from KPMG which indicates that there are an estimated 96 million skilled women aged 30-54 on career breaks worldwide, of whom an estimated 55 million have experience at middle-manager level and above. The KPMG research also indicates the potential economic benefits associated with bringing back into the workplace all women on a career break with experience at middle manager-level and above. It calculates that if all such women worldwide were able to secure manager-level employment (and on the assumption that their recruitment did not lead to the displacement of other employees), the associated value of the additional economic activity generated (in terms of Gross Value Added) could be in the region of £151 billion per year and the cumulative financial boost for those women’s households, in terms of earnings, could be approximately £419 billion a year.

In a separate survey for Vodafone by GfK of around 500 women who are currently or were once on career breaks across five countries, more than 80% of respondents said that more support is needed for women who want to return to the workplace following a career break and for working women with family and care responsibilities. Many women said they wanted the option to work flexibly (61%) or part time (51%).

The ReConnect programme will include recruitment outreach activities to make contact with, and raise awareness among, women on career breaks; training and induction programmes to refresh and enhance professional skills and help women prepare for re-entry to the workplace; unconscious bias training for hiring managers; and options for flexible working and a phased return to work.

Vodafone Group Chief Executive Vittorio Colao said: “We are committed to ensuring that our employees are drawn from diverse communities and societies. Our ambition to be one of the best employers for women in the world is central to that commitment. Companies often struggle to recruit and retain women in management and leadership roles. Innovations such as our global maternity policy and now our new ReConnect programme can make a real difference to women who work for us today and who will work for us in the future.”

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