Deloitte UK uses return-to-work internships to promote gender balance

Deloitte UK uses return-to-work internships

Professional services organisation Deloitte UK operates a return-to-work internship programme to support individuals back into work after a career break of more than two years.

The 20-week paid internship programme, which launched in October 2015, is available for UK-based men and women who have had a career break of two years or more and who have a background in the professional services sector. The programme has been designed to support Deloitte UK’s focus on gender balance, which includes having more women in senior roles.

Emma Codd, managing director for talent at Deloitte UK, says: “We have a very detailed plan to get a greater number of women at senior levels in our organisation. We believe there is an enormous untapped pool of talent out there, either women that have left our firm [or] left other firms and want to come back [to the workplace]. We want amazing people, amazing people are out there, so it was really a no-brainer for us.”

Run on an annual basis, the programme includes an induction that focuses on basic technical skills, such as using Excel and training on the organisation’s IT and phone systems, confidence building and compliance training. It also includes elements of the organisation’s working parents transition coaching scheme, which offers externally-provided coaching sessions to all primary carers at manager level or above.

After the induction stages, the intern will be placed on a project within their department. From week 16 of the programme, the organisation will then look to transition the intern into either a permanent or contract role that is matched to the intern’s skillset.

The return-to-work programme has been designed to accommodate interns who may have caring responsibilities. Its October start date allows working parents to help their children settle into the new school year, and interns are also able to have the October half term as a week of paid leave as part of the scheme. In addition, the internship contracts are based on a reduced presence, meaning that employees are contracted to work for 80% of the working week. “It’s a big thing going from not working [to going] back in to the workplace five days a week. [It’s] a big change and so this was something we designed when we first launched the programme,” Codd explains.

Every intern has a sponsor within the business to help with the transition back to work, as well as there being a fixed contact in the talent team who oversees the entire programme. Interns are also given access to senior leaders for lunch meetings, to reinforce Deloitte UK’s open door culture.

For 2017, the return-to-work programme currently has 14 interns who have been matched with vacant positions at the organisation. This compares to 2015’s first year pilot that had eight interns; five of these remained within the business at the conclusion of the programme. Codd says: “Our programme is designed with the aim that those individuals will actually stay with us.”

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