Vodafone to recruit thousands of women who have taken a career break


Vodafone has announced that it is launching the world’s largest programme to recruit women who have taken a career break, amid a slew of research showing that women still face restricted opportunities for promotions and pay rises when re-entering the workforce, reports the Independent.

The telecommunications giant said that within three years, it aims to hire 1,000 women who have been out of the workplace for several years, in most cases to raise a family. The company is particularly looking for woman “who would like to return to work on a full-time or flexible basis but are struggling to make the professional connections needed or refresh the skills required”.

Separately, Vodafone said that it is committed to increasing the proportion of women in management and leadership roles.

The group said that up to 500 of the women who are on career breaks will be hired into management roles over the next three years, which will account for around 10 per cent of all Vodafone external management hires over that period.

Citing research that Vodafone commissioned from professional services firm KPMG, the group said that there are around 96 million skilled women between the ages of 30 and 54 who are on career breaks worldwide. Of those, an estimated 55 million have experience at middle-manager level and above.

The value of the economic activity generated by bringing those women back into the workplace could be in the region of £151bn per year, the research shows.

In terms of earnings, the cumulative financial boost for the households of those women could be around £419bn a year, according to KPMG.

A separate study commissioned by Vodafone and done by research institute GfK shows that of around 500 women across five countries who are currently, or have in the past been on a career break, more than 80 per cent think that more support is needed for women who want to return to the workplace.

Vodafone’s announcement comes ahead of International Woman’s Day on 8 March and in the wake of a slew of studies and reports highlighting the stubborn gender pay gap in businesses globally.

Last month, a report by the cross-part Women and Equalities Committee warned the Government that it is not doing enough to tackle the gaping divide between male and female pay in the UK and must bolster efforts to ensure flexible working is offered to all.

The most recent figures available show that in 2016 just 8.7 per cent of jobs paying a full-time equivalent of £20,000 were advertised as available to work on a flexible to part-time basis.

Research from the University of Plymouth published in February also shows, however, that fathers can face negative bias when applying for part-time employment, and are often met with questions over their commitment to their careers. That research argues that employers in the UK are failing to adapt to the fact that traditional patterns of employment and parenting are in decline and that childcare duties are increasingly being shared.