40 million women can't be the roadblock for women returning to work
It is estimated that there are 96 million skilled women around the world aged between 30 and 54 who are currently on career breaks. Of these, roughly 40 million have gained experience to middle management level and want to return to work.
Globally women continue to face many challenges when returning to work post a career break. And what I have found intriguing during my research is the issues, emotions, language and the barriers to re-entry are identical no matter which country a women resides in. In particular we are united by the frustrations of feeling caught between our career dreams and home duties.
However there is one big difference globally - How Governments and Businesses are dealing with it.
There has been a steady stream of initiatives taking place globally to tap into this talent pool, each driven by different motivations and needs within their respective countries. For example in Pakistan they face a doctor shortage. 70% medical students are female, however there is a 50% drop out rate known as the "doctor bride peunonum". To allow women to return to work they have drawn on telemedicine and video conferencing to allow women to consult from home, whilst reaching remote areas that don’t have access to doctors.
The driver for Germany was led by Angela Merkel who saw that “women not returning was costing the country severely in wasted talent and lost productivity – and, as the working-age population of Germany plummets, this waste would become unaffordable.” They introduced "women's offices" and the re-integration centre, a government-funded network of institutions to provide women with the resources, contacts and employment environments they need to get back into to the work force.
In Scotland the government is funding a new scheme within the financial services sector, with 13 employers signed up so far to run return to work program's.
In Canada the Rotman School of Management offers a Back to Work course which is a specialized learning program for women who are returning to the labour market after an extended period of absence. The course is accredited and provides both theoretical and knowledge exchange with field experts.
In order for Malaysia to reach its national goal of becoming a developed-status nation by2020, the government launched the Career Comeback Grant to encourage the employment of women who have taken career breaks, as part of a nationwide plan to increase female participation in the workplace and maximise Malaysia’s talent.
With India sitting at 120th in the world for female workforce participation, corporate's are taking the lead with over 25 returnship programs running in 2018. The programs have proven to be highly successful in India and are emerging as a valuable new recruitment model for employers and a powerful restart strategy for women.
These example are only some of the many being rolled out around the world. By the very implementation they acknowledge that this is an issue and ultimately the 40 million professional women globally are not the roadblock to change. The Australian government currently has no programs to actively support this market, nor are businesses in a hurry to tap into this talent pool. I am personally driven to ensure that this does not remain the status quo.