This month is Global Diversity Month. It’s a great jumping off point for thinking about how global relaunching has become as of 2020 and how the virtual connections forced by the pandemic have actually accelerated globalization of corporate return to work programs.
The two global centers of corporate return to work programming activity outside of the U.S. are the UK and India. More companies are expanding their programs to locations all around the world. This is in large part a function of programs being around long enough to expand functionally, domestically, and ultimately internationally.
Mastercard Relaunch Your Career is the return to work program with the most sprawling global presence, covering over 14 countries, including UAE, Singapore, England, India, Australia, U.S. and more. Mastercard is doing something groundbreaking this year: they are running a single global cohort with the same start and end dates, instead of staggering each country’s cohort at a different time during the calendar year. Everyone who is selected for Mastercard’s fall Relaunch Your Career program, all over the world, will start at the same time in November for the 16 week program. This is the first truly worldwide cohort in a return to work program that we are aware of, and we are honored to be Mastercard’s global programming partner. We are delivering programming for the relaunchers and for all internal stakeholders during the course of the program.
Morgan Stanley Return to Work launched in 2014 and expanded steadily to international locations. Today it operates in Mumbai, Bengaluru, Budapest, London, NewYork and Baltimore. Also, here is a new post about the success of Morgan Stanley’s program in India.
Johnson & Johnson Re-Ignite, IBM Tech Re-entry and the Macquarie Returner Program are prime examples of programs that run in multiple countries, including the U.S., Canada, India, U.K., Switzerland, Brazil and Australia.
Relaunching initiatives typically begin as diversity initiatives, focusing on gender diversity. They started on Wall Street where companies discovered that over time, women dropped out of the workforce primarily for childcare reasons, to the point where there were not enough women in mid to senior level roles. Return to work programs were and are meant to reconnect with these women (and now also men) a few years later when they are ready to relaunch their careers, and specifically place them back into mid-career roles where they are poised for advancement.
The definition of “relauncher” has broadened to include men who take career breaks for childcare reasons, and women and men who take career breaks for reasons that have nothing to do with childcare; eldercare, pursuing a personal interest, a health issue, ex-pat experience and more. While return to work programs skew heavily female, they are also opportunities to broaden age diversity and engage with people bringing a wide range of perspectives, in part drawn from their career break experiences. Companies also use them to re-connect with their own high performing alumni, also usually female, after career breaks typically for child care reasons.
Thirty four percent of the 2020 Fortune 50 – largest global companies – have an in-house return to work program. The goal of most companies in establishing these programs is to develop a talent pipeline to engage with the high caliber “relauncher” population. They recognize this is a “hidden talent pool” and they want to harness it. Corporate return to work programs set up as “returnships,” with an internship-like experience at the core of the offering, produce “conversion” rates averaging over 80%. “Conversion rate” means the % of participants that become employees when the program completes. We are also seeing some programs launch as or change to a “direct hire” model, in which relaunchers are hired directly into full time roles on day one, without an internship component.
Global Diversity Month is a great reason to celebrate the increasing global presence of corporate return to work initiatives, meaning we are seeing professionals from all over the world relaunch their careers after long career breaks.