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Returning Woman Worker Program

Posted by Madeleine Altman on 21 February 2017

Diversity in the workforce and gender equality are things that have been receiving a lot of press in recent times. Frequently, we hear reference to the gender pay gap, whether in regard to female athletes or female CEOs - and gender diversity targets are set by governments, by boards and by businesses with some regularity. In fact, in the 2015/16 financial year the Federal government committed to women holding 50% of overall government board positions by 1 July 2016. It only takes a quick internet search to be inundated with articles about the importance and benefits of a diverse workforce.

As a nation, we have come a long way down the road of gender equality. Women and girls have access to the same standard of education as their male counterparts and there is legislation in place which makes discrimination on the basis of gender illegal. Despite these things, the average superannuation balance for women at retirement is 52.8% percent less than that of men.

It is not just the gender pay gap that contributes to this. Women quite often leave the workforce during their prime earning years. This can be through choice or necessity, and the reasons vary from raising a family to involuntary redundancy. Once out of the workforce, these women often find it very difficult to get back in. The jobless rate in South Australia is one of the worst in the nation, meaning that there are few jobs and fierce competition. Coupled with this, women trying to re-enter the workforce often report feelings of inadequacy, of being out of touch with current trends and as though their skills are out of date.

With these things in mind, Fulcrum People developed the Returning Woman Worker Program. The program aims to help women gain the skills and ultimately the confidence they need for successful workforce re-entry. The program covers practical topics from how to effectively update a resume and write a high impact cover letter, to interviewing techniques and practice. It also incorporates some of the soft skills needed to make the transition back to working life more possible; things like projecting a professional image and tips to find that elusive work/life balance all have a place in the program. The persolog DISC Behavioural assessment is used to help participants understand the origins of their own behaviour and how it impacts others. This tool can help them modify their behaviour and get the best out of any interaction. At the end of the training, participants are paired with mentors who will assist them over the coming weeks in identifying possible job opportunities and guide them through the application process. 

Last week saw the roll out of the first Returning Woman Worker program. There has been vast interest in the program, and places filled quickly. The women who participated in the pilot program reported feeling more confident and excited about looking for work, as well as being more able to communicate their skills to potential employers. In conjunction with their mentors, several of the women who attended have identified potential job opportunities and have initiated the application process. 

Currently, there is only one further Returning Woman Worker program scheduled. With such a positive uptake, Fulcrum People are hopeful that funding will be secured for further programs in the next financial year. In the meantime, we're enjoying our contribution to workforce diversity and believe the Returning Woman Worker program is greatly rewarding; not only for our participants, but for our facilitators and mentors and the wider workforce as well.

We wish our participants all the best for their return to work.

References:
Australian Government Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. Gender Balance on Australian Government Boards [Online] https://www.dpmc.gov.au/office-women/leadership/gender-balance-australian-government-boards [Accessed 21/02/2017].

Workplace Gender Equality Agency. August 2016.  Gender Workplace Statistics at a Glance. [Online] https://www.wgea.gov.au/sites/default/files/Stats_at_a_Glance.pdf  [Accessed 21/02/2017].

Author: Madeleine Altman
Tags: Working women Gender equality Returning to work

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