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The Benefits of Hiring Women Returning from Career Break

Patagonia founder finds relaunchers, "one of the most underused resources in America.”

By Carol Fishman Cohen and Vivian Steir Rabin

Vivian Steir Rabin is the co-founder of iRelaunch and the co-author of Back on the Career Track (affiliate link). She is a relauncher, having relaunched her career in executive search after a 7 year career break. Vivian left iRelaunch in late 2014 in order to focus full time on VSR Advisors, a retained executive search firm focused on commercial real estate and financial services for which she serves as Managing Director and Principal.

This is a reprint of a guest blog we wrote for The Glass Hammer.

In the June issue of INC Magazine, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard is interviewed about a range of topics relating to managing and motivating employees. When asked at the end of the interview:

“If you were starting a company today, what would you do to create the best possible workplace?”

Chouinard gave an incredibly powerful response:

“…..I would search out older women as employees. Ones that have already raised families and are looking for something to do. These people have lived with a budget. They are aggressive. They are honest. You can’t find better employees. They are one of the most underused resources in America.”

Chouinard is widely admired as a true visionary among CEOs. His progressive policies toward flextime expressed by his book title Let My People Go Surfing (affiliate link) pretty much sums up his philosophy:

“All I care about is that the job gets done and the work is excellent. If you come in at 7 at night because you want to go surfing at 2 in the afternoon, that is fine with me. But it can’t impact your fellow worker.” His workforce is 75% women, he established one of the early on-site childcare centers and he is famously dedicated to environmental causes both in action and through his policy of donating 1% of sales to them.

Here at iRelaunch we couldn’t agree more with Chouinard’s assessment of the pool of talent on career break, which is predominantly female. Women in this pool often have strong educational credentials, significant work experience, a high energy level, and unbeatable enthusiasm about returning to work precisely because they’ve been away from it for a while. They just can’t wait to get back. Plus, think about their life stage – fewer or no maternity leaves (they’ve done that already if that’s why they took a career break), fewer spousal relocations, and a more mature perspective.

As we like to say, “relaunchers” as we call them, are not trying to “find themselves” at an employer’s expense. They are more grounded than the new graduate and are actually better candidates for positions requiring an advisory, consultative approach.

To read more, click here.

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