Getting Started

There is a wealth of experience being squandered because talented individuals lack options to return to executive positions following career breaks.

What is the Returners Program?

A Returnship* is an internship-like program first launched in 2008 by Goldman Sachs. The intent of a returnship is to facilitate former mid-career individuals and businesses in exploring if a mutual working relationship is acceptable and desirable. The program in particular is beneficial to mothers returning to the workforce** 


There is a wealth of experience being squandered because talented individuals(mostly women) lack options to return to executive positions following career breaks.  Similarly, organisations face a number of challenges, these include:

  • Not enough women on the executive board
  • Losing women in their late 20’s & early 30’s and not seeing them return
  • Not attracting talented individuals into the workforce with experience
  • Unable to ‘tap into’ the executive ‘returners’ market
  • Difficulty attracting a diverse workforce e.g. sector diversity

Many of these challenges can be addressed by introducing a returnship program, along with a number of other initiatives including flexible working practices, coaching and talent management programs.  This in turn improves business performance.

One of the largest returnship programs was run by Goldman Sachs.

How does the Returners Gateway program work?

The Returner

The returner takes on a defined piece of work for between 10 and 14 weeks(can be longer).  This is usually a project with clear deliverables, this ensures that individuals can measure their success against specified criteria.    To determine the type of project they undertake, involves matching their previous experience, interests and skills with the project requirements. Examples of returners projects include: HR Training program development, Marketing planning and strategy development & Market analysis.

By the end of the project, the individual(returner) is able to decide if this is something they want to do more permanently.

As a returner you may be looking to transition into another line of work/sector or to refresh their skills in a sector they still have a passion for.

 The Employer

The employer benefits by accessing an individual with a great deal of talent and experience which they aren’t currently able to target.  The project enables the employer to assess whether the individual is suitable for a more permanent position.  The other benefits realised by the employer are:

  • Loyalty from those offered this bridge back to a rewarding career
  • A wider talent pool attracted to working for your organisation
  • More women executives attracted to the organisation
  • More individuals returning after maternity because they see an organisation which is motivated to supporting women executives
  • An increased number of executives ready to progress upwards i.e. potential to increase the number of women on executive boards

The Returners Gateway Program includes:

1. Support

Needs analysis– We work with both returner and Employer to identify the: Objectives, deliverables, challenges & support requirements for throughout the program.  This enables us to provide all the relevant support and to measure the programs success for both employer and returner.

Mentoring – This is a key component of the program. We help you to identify an internal mentor inside your organization.  This individual will be there to support the returner on a regular basis – we suggest involvement in the on-boarding process and then through weekly meetings/calls. We also provide on-going external support to both mentor and returner.

Training – the returner may need technical training if using IT or other systems which are new to them.

Coaching –  at induction and throughout the program.

2. Buy-in

There needs to be buy-in from those supporting the project within the organisation.  Communication of the benefits of the program and its objectives.

3. Commitment

Whilst it’s impossible to guarantee returners a future role, employers should make a commitment to consider successful returners for any suitable role following the completion of their project.  It may be key for the organisation to consider flexible working options if this is on offer during the returnship, to ensure those who have these requirements aren’t lost at the end of the program.

There is no commitment to run with a project at this early stage.

What Returners Gateway provides

We offer a bespoke solution for the employers. We work with you to:

  • Capture project requirements from hiring managers
  • Brief mentors involved in the program
  • Identify and source the right returners for the projects
  • Provide external support and guidance to both returner and managers throughout the project

To find out more about our returnship projects please contact us on: 0203 002 3558 or register your details here and we will contact you.

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