Deloitte LLP, Finalist 2016, The Innovation Award

Key features

  • Deloitte designed a returners programme with the purpose of reconnecting the firm with senior, talented women who have had time away from their professional careers – for parenthood, family care or other reasons.
  • Agile working was a cornerstone of the programme, making the return to work as smooth as possible.
  • Initial ‘Insight’ days helped the returners start to rebuild their skills and prepared them for what was ahead.

Deloitte wanted to engage talented women, who were ready to return to work after a career break but potentially lacked confidence, to transition back into the workplace . This led to the development of the Deloitte Return-to-Work programme targeting women with relevant experience who had been out of the workforce for over two years and who were looking to return without taking a step back in their career.

In spring 2015 Deloitte set out to offer up to 12 women at senior manager level a paid 12-week London-based ‘internship’ with the view to securing a permanent or contract role at the end of the programme. Potential candidates were approached through alumni and other networks and invited to attend ‘Insight’ days. Eight successful candidates were selected to join the pilot programme in September 2015 (after the school year had begun). Participants joined on a four-days-a-week basis, with the October half-term week off as paid leave. Each participant received group coaching, networking opportunities and individual mentoring. As the programme progressed, both the firm and the individual evaluated their performance and experience with the expectation that at least 80 per cent of participants would take a longer-term role with Deloitte.

The initiative is a collaborative project requiring real commitment. The programme had visible, senior buy-in and service line leaders, talent partners, HR Directors and the participants’ line managers were all accountable for ensuring the success of the programme. The participants received IT refresher training and external specialists provided three group transition coaching sessions. The participants also attended a  session on personal impact.

The programme manager had weekly check-ins with the eight participants and monthly catch-ups with their line managers, buddies and mentors, to ensure a 360 degree approach to monitoring progress. Deloitte also asked participants for detailed feedback on the recruitment and induction process. Feedback has been positive. One participant said:

“It’s been a great start to the programme, and we feel so privileged to be a part of it. I do hope that if I were to continue on here after, I can be a champion of this programme in some shape or form, for this truly is such a unique way in engaging with the women out there.”

The positive feedback from participants, the business and the market has given Deloitte confidence to run an expanded programme in 2016 offering 20 participants a 20-week placement. Deloitte is the first organisation in its sector in the UK to launch a programme for women returners.