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By Miquel Calvet, Communications Manager Spain, Top Employers Institute
By Miquel Calvet, Communications Manager Spain, Top Employers Institute

Reintegration Programmes for Women After a Career Break

Emerging Practices in Top Organisations


According to data from the Spanish National Institute of Statistics, the chance of unemployment among women increases with the number of children they have. In fact, women with three or more children have an unemployment rate of up to 26% higher than their childless counterparts. There is a clear relationship between childbearing and the decline in the employment rate. However, the opposite is true for men as research shows that their unemployment rate decreases with each child.

"The role of childminding is usually assumed by women. This leads to a widening wage gap. Returning to work after a long absence is often a complicated journey. The longer you stay out, the harder it can be to get back in," explains Massimo Begelle, Regional Manager of Top Employers Institute in Spain and Italy.

Some of the main problems encountered by women who have put their careers on hold to have a family, or for other reasons, are related to feelings of obsolescence around the current technologies and skills required to reintegrate into the workplace. "They are going to discover a different world than the one they knew," Begelle points out, "and they may suffer from insecurities after years away from the world of work.

In leading organisations, initiatives to assist women who have taken career breaks to re-enter the labour market are an emerging best practice, with programmes that include ideas such as offering them new work experience (permanent or temporary, to serve as a platform for them to carry out another role), training in new skills, or coaching support.  

"The focus of these programmes," continues Begelle, "is not only to comply with the CSR or diversity and inclusion policies of organisations but as a way to acquire valuable, experienced talent with a wealth of life experience who, aware of these new professional opportunities, participate with a high degree of commitment.

In top organisations, these programmes are complemented by others designed to ensure that women do not have to quit their job when they have children. 74% of Top Employers in Spain already have good flexibility practices in place to adjust working hours in order to accommodate childcare. Moreover, 58% offer special leave to care for children.

Schindler and Banco Santander are two examples of companies with programmes designed for the reintegration of women who have taken career breaks.

Women Back to Business, Schindler's Talent Recruitment Programme

In 2021, Schindler launched the Women Back to Business programme, aimed at incorporating into its organisation women who had taken a career break of several years for personal reasons, and who, despite being ready to return to the labour market, were facing a number of obstacles to re-integrate. More than a corporate social responsibility project, it was a talent recruitment programme and was approached as such.

After an intense communication campaign lasting several weeks, they set up a web page for the programme and received more than 600 applications from different profiles. They hired nine women from different areas to take on commercial and supervisory positions as middle managers.

Santander Reencuentra, a successful programme

Banco Santander's Reencuentra (“Reunite”) programme is aimed towards women who left their professional careers for family reasons and is designed to help them re-enter the labour market with a company in their area.

This programme offers participants a professional experience in Santander in an office close to them, formative retraining that includes the completion of an Online MBA and training in digital skills, coaching for employment, and outplacement firm services, all with the aim of finding them a stable job.

In its first edition, the programme had 100 participants, with an average age range of between 38 and 46 years, returning from a professional break of between 5 and 10 years. 84% of these participants managed to find employment during the course of this initiative. Santander plans to launch the next edition of this programme in 2023.