PwC has launched ‘Back to Business’, a programme to support ex-professional services personnel return to the workplace. The programme takes 12 weeks and places participants in the thick of it, to quickly reorient them with working life. The Back to Business programme is part of PwC’s wider diversity strategy.
There are many reasons to exit from professional life for a period of time: from illness to needing to care for a loved one, from family commitments to seeing the world. Doing so is, in many ways, not difficult. Re-entering professional life after an extended break is, on the other hand, often met with considerable glass barriers. Consulting firms have in recent times sought to create channels for ex-professional service professions, especially women that exit to raise their children, to return to work, including A.T. Kearney’s Encore programme.
PwC is the latest professional services firm to offer a programme aimed at helping people back to work. The programme, called ‘Back to Business’, takes 12 weeks and is inspired to help women back to the workplace, although the programme is open to all. “Many women who have had time out of the workplace to raise a family may feel that they are being overlooked by recruiters due to the gap in their CV,” explains Gaenor Bagley, Head of People at PwC. “Our programme is designed to address people’s experience gap and provide another route to get talented people back into the workplace.”
Back to Business
Back to Business makes the often difficult re-orientation to work easier, with an initial week-long induction that provides key training and support. Participants will be assigned a dedicated manager with whom clear objectives can be set, to be achieved over the 12 weeks. The programme is practical and hands-on, throwing the participants into the deep end, providing an opportunity to work directly with clients on the basis of their interests and skills and historic expertise. Back to Business will provide participants with a range of open career paths at PwC, with the view of returning participants to a permanent role within the firm.
The programme will initially be offered within the firm’s Deals practice, thus seeking returning professionals within the fields of business recovery, corporate finance, forensic and transaction services to a wide range of clients from SMEs to multinationals. Among others, conditions for taking part in the programme including more than two years of professional experience and business acumen.
The programme is part of PwC’s wider commitment to support diversity within all levels of the firm’s practice. According to Brian Lochead, People Leader for PwC’s Deals practice, returning professions will provide the firm with an additional pipeline to develop future executives. “We value difference and want to break down the pre-conceptions that it can be harder for women to progress in a deals environment. Even though the programme has been designed with women in mind, the programme is open to anyone who has been out of the workplace for more than two years and we want to hear from a wide range of people.” To further its diversity and equality drive, the firm is also planning to set clear gender and diversity targets, with public reporting about the gender pay gap, as well as creating a shared parental leave scheme for employees.
PwC’s efforts to boost diversity have not gone unnoticed. Recently, the firm’s Dennis Nally was named a diversity champion for the UN’s Heforshe initiative, while the firm itself is on the Times Top 50 employers list for women.