When financial services firm EY reported its gender pay gap statistics, which included a median hourly gap of 14.8% and a mean hourly gap of 19.7%, it noted the significant role played by the unequal distribution of women in senior positions.
One of the numerous aspects of its approach to closing the pay gap is EY Reconnect, a return-to-work scheme that aims to redress the gender balance at senior levels.
EY Reconnect consists of a 12-week programme, with the opportunity of a full-time position at its conclusion.
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Throughout, returners have weekly or bi-weekly check-ins, as well as workshops with a representative from Women Returners during the first, fourth and twelfth week. This is further supplemented by a 90-minute one-on-one coaching session in the sixth or seventh week, covering any barriers the returner has faced so far, or any personal issues they feel they need to overcome.
Gail Bishop, associate director talent, and EY Reconnect programme lead, says: “The frame of the [one-on-one] discussion is very much just to be supportive. What we’ve seen after the coaching is that a lot of [the returners] feel rather empowered.”
A buddy at the candidate’s own level is appointed to make them feel at home, as is a counsellor. “This is someone who takes responsibility for being their key contact for the duration of the programme,” explains Bishop. “They look after the feedback and make sure that [the returner] is connected into the business. Those relationships have aided the ongoing process well into [the returners’] time with us.”
By the end of 2018, more than 50 individuals will have completed the programme. Currently, the rate of conversion into permanent employment is around 85%. “With a little bit of transition, a bridge in, there’s no reason they can’t add to our business within a very short space of time,” notes Bishop.
Around 80% of those who take permanent positions then opt to make use of EY’s flexible working provisions, while the remainder choose to work full time.
“The first and second groups are starting now to mentor the newcomers, which is great to see,” reports Bishop. “It has also just been delightful to see how quickly they’ve integrated, and the general positive feeling in the business about the programme has been really rewarding.”
Julianne Miles, managing director at Women Returners, adds: “It shows as an organisation that you are flexible about career paths. This is particularly welcome to people lower down in the organisation who might be wondering how they are going to manage everything, but might also be welcome to those higher up who are wanting to take time out.”