What is a Flexreturn® Engagement? And how will it help me get back to work?
A Flexreturn® Engagement is a paid mid-career internship that provides the right stepping stone for you to embark on your return-to-work journey confidently and flexibly. You may have seen The Intern, a movie with Robert Di Nero and Anne Hathaway. In it the 70-year-old intern gets an internship to keep himself busy when he gets bored in retirement. Anne plays his boss in the scenario, a very driven young executive intending to ignore him, fully overlooking his potential help …. and as any of us who have been on the sidelines of paid work in this chapter of our journey can guess…he ends up being helpful and a great support to her ambitions due to his wisdom of experience.
There are many reasons one might be pivoting, or in transition, and need to learn in an internship environment at various stages of their career-life. Opting out for parenting is just one of them. Unfortunately, parents often suffer bias.
There is a growing trend of Returnships®, a term coined by Goldman Sachs that is gaining traction in the Banking, Consulting, and Law industries. Companies in these industries work to bring women back because these fields continue to be male dominated at senior levels even after years of welcoming a 50/50 ratio of college grads. Their intense work culture where a 70-hour work week or frequent travel is standard, often results in all or nothing participation. This culture, understandably, pushes women out during their caregiving years.
Untapped Potential’s founder, Candace Freedenberg set out create something that had all the hallmarks of a good internship—great projects to work on, embedded in an organization that needs help, potential consideration for a role when complete, forward-thinking mentors and a community of support—without the negatives of these returnships…highly competitive placement and full-time returns.
She created a DIFFERENT approach that is designed to successfully support YOUR goals. Our approach limits the burnout aspects of the returnship model where only the best of the best, who are able to dedicate 100% of themselves to work, survive. In doing it differently we challenge the model to really serve the unique needs of this demographic, while contributing meaningfully to a company’s needs.
Our Flexreturn® services give Mom returners the tools necessary to:
✅ confidently describe who they are and what they do well
✅ discover transferable skills and navigate to their next career chapter
✅ overcome the biases faced in today's workplace
✅ skillUP in current technologies
✅ positively shift acceptance in the workplace of those with a career break
✅ negotiate for the flexibility needed to be successful returning
Each returner success story normalizes and values the unique skillsets you’ve gained in caregiving, in the workplace. It demonstrates that a career break does not diminish your capacity to learn or navigate an office.
Covid has disrupted the standard 9-5, and pushed legacy standards toward flex jobs or flexibility. It has increased the visibility and intensity of caregiving for those who used to magically appear home at the end of the day without giving it a second thought. On the plus side, it may have eliminated a commute several days a week, giving you back hours of personal time. Negotiating the “always on” accessibility to be something of value for flexibility (with necessary boundaries), can be tough, but crucial. All of these things need to continue to evolve to retain women in the workplace.
The host companies Untapped Potential works with see the value returners provide first-hand. This helps eliminate any biases they may have held and further expands opportunities for women. They get low-risk access to high-quality talent. Companies end up reducing their own barriers, and increasing their pipeline for women in senior roles by creating the right entry point for returners. Our dual role at Untapped Potential also helps connect forward-thinking companies to top talent ready to add value.
The Flexreturn™ Engagement —Removing Bias for Returners
What is bias?
Bias exists when a person is faced with unfair disadvantages or benefits based entirely on unreasoned judgment. Bias exists heavily within our workplaces today and can be found most notably within the female-identifying and BIPOC communities. Work is necessary to overcome such bias.
Bias resulting in disadvantage for caregivers is demonstrated by the "Leaky Pipeline," a term coined by McKinsey. We lose numbers of women in senior roles because women, more often, have a gap due to caregiving. Caregiving also impacts upward mobility. Whether women (or men) opt out or simply scale back their energy (overtime) at work, it results in a potential for lack of promotion. It really is a bias that results in a lack of perceived promotability! We note that workplace recruitment today, while heavily relying on current facts (data), undervalues life experience, community work, and prior professional/corporate work - no matter how successful! This results in a workplace that skews with a bias leaving moms sidelined.
Have you encountered bias?
You may not have felt that you encountered bias in the beginning stages of your career and were easily able to get jobs and promotions when you demonstrated a job well done. If so, that’s fantastic. Now that you have a gap, and your most recent experience is volunteer work for the Board of the local nonprofit or fundraising chair for the PTO, you may find the response to your resume lukewarm or downright COLD. If you haven’t filled the gap with substantial contract work, it becomes much harder to be noticed.
Most people with a gap have let their professional networks lapse. So, returners tend to only hear about jobs through public postings and apply that way. What we hear when people are returning is that they apply and apply for jobs without even getting to interview stage. Any gap of more than a year or 18 months usually eliminates you from being considered. Now that there are digital recruiting processes for most jobs, the software itself is doing the elimination before a human could even see your fantastic experience, no matter how relevant.
If you indeed get to the interview stage, many report one of the first questions asked is about their career break and reasons for doing it, rather than a question pertaining to relevant skills. These questions, depending on how they are asked and answered, can derail an interview. There is still a perception and bias that people with a career break of more than 2 years are out-of-date, not able to keep up with work demands, and can’t navigate tech. So, it’s important to find ways in your resume and conversations (or in actual skilling up) to counteract those perceptions proactively.
If it’s possible to tell you are a mom, there is an additional bias that you won’t be able to work as much, and be easily distractible. Meanwhile, dads benefit from a pay increase if someone knows they are a father, as they are seen as more stable and responsible.
Stanford Sociology Professor Shelley J Correll studied resume bias by sending out fake resumes with identical information except for one line about being a member of the PTA. The results as summarized in this New York Times article by Claire Cain Miller:
Mothers were half as likely to be called back, while fathers were called back slightly more often than the men whose résumés did not mention parenthood. In a similar study done in a laboratory, Ms. Correll asked participants how much they would pay job applicants if they were employers. Mothers were offered on average $11,000 less than childless women and $13,000 less than fathers.
Because of gender inequity and bias, companies miss out on expanding their highest source of unrecognized strength due to underrepresentation of female workers. The bias that workplaces hold for mothers and caregivers hinders their efforts to acquire equal pay, recognition, and the access to resources needed to excel in their place of work.
Good News: Diversity & Gender Equity in the Workplace
With each year more women joined the workforce and made it to those previously closed-off high tiers of management, the business case for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion was made. There are now well-known studies that show that a more diverse leadership team brings an increase in profits. Armed with this information, corporations who were not actively involved in diversity recruiting or reducing the gender pay gap have realized it’s more than a “good thing to do.” Corporations who have been slow to move, now have business proof they could be hurting their bottom lines, not just their workplace cultures. McKinsey’s updated study from 2017 reports that:
“companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on their executive teams were 21 percent more likely to experience above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile. For ethnic and cultural diversity, there was a 35 percent likelihood of outperformance.”
This helps move the business environment from talk, to action. Untapped Potential knows returners can be a big part of the gender diversity solution. But first, we demonstrate value and change minds through the action of our Flexreturn® Engagements.
The Flexreturn Engagement levels the playing field for women!
Our Flexreturn program is an innovative approach to accessing talent for the changing workplace put in place to inspire women to achieve their professional potential with flexible, meaningful careers.
We’re aware that career-finding can be time-consuming and, at times, a demanding job in itself, so Untapped Potential aims to provide a program that is efficient and dependable. We create a powerful alternative to current job search methods that accelerates businesses and reignites careers.
In summary a Flexreturn is…
A stepping stone curated for the future “you”
A paid mid-career internship
A way to ‘try something new’ in a supportive environment
Matched to your broad skills or experience
An opportunity to define the end role – leveraging your strengths
Well supported with the flexibility you need
A platform for success
Take that first step...
Become a Flexreturn™ Candidate.