EXCLUSIVE: Metropolitan Police uses returners programme to address pay gap

Employee Benefits Live 2019: The Metropolitan Police Service has taken steps to address its gender pay gap and increase female representation in its workforce, using its women’s returners programme.

The programme, which is a high-level internship scheme, aims to support female officers in the return to work after a career break.

Addressing delegates at Employee Benefits Live 2019, Rachel Billington, HR senior diversity and inclusion lead at the Metropolitan Police Service, said: “It is extremely daunting to come back to work when you’ve had an extended career break, and returners programmes are directly designed to encourage and support people back to work. As the majority of people that take them are women, they are a really good [way to do] all [we] can to increase gender representation and reduce [our] gender pay gap.”

The returners programme uses cohorts to reach out to the police service’s 500 female officers that are currently on a career break to assist their return to work via training and support. It aims to bring women back into the workplace at the right level, rather than into a role that is beneath their pay and capabilities.

Female representation among The Met’s officers is 22.6%, which it plans to improve from a number of angles.

“One thing about the gender pay gap work, is that you cannot do it in isolation,” said Billington. “This has to be part of several work streams that you are doing to increase your gender representation.

“We’ve done a specific recruitment campaign to increase our female recruits, but on its own, that won’t work. You can have the best recruitment campaign in the world, but if you’re not keeping your female talent, its negligible. This is only part of what we’re doing to increase our female representation, which also focuses on retention as well.”