Hello friends, and welcome to the second part in our series on return-to-work options for moms. Looking to get back in the game after spending extended time out of the workforce? You’ve come to the right place! (You can read Part 1 here if you are so inclined.)
Heather and I previously discussed the penalties for opting out, one of which is that when women are ready to get back to work, they are taking steps back – both title-wise and financially – grossly out of proportion to their time away from the workforce. On average, women who stay at home for two years lose about 18% of their earning power once they return to work. For those who take more than three years off, this figure climbs to 38%.
But take heart! There’s some good news on this front: many organizations are actively creating programs to bridge that gap.
These programs are typically framed up as internships, designed to help highly educated women re-enter the corporate world. The OnRamp Fellowship is one of the best established and most successful, and here’s how it works: women are offered one-year, mid-level associate positions at law firms that involve both work and intensive training.
Participants are paid generous stipends; earlier this year, it was reported that the stipend was about $125,000. That’s less than a typical first-year associate makes, but arguably fair given the level of training received. The year of work and training helps obviate the gap on these women’s resumes, plus at the end of the internship they leave with excellent references. Many leave with full-time job offers as well – and these offers put the women back (or very close to back) to the earning power they had prior to opting out.
Law firms have scrambled to jump on board. During its first year, the OnRamp Fellowship had four participating law firms. This year, nineteen large, national firms are involved.
This, my friends, is excellent news.
And now Wall Street is copying the model. Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, and Goldman Sachs offer similar programs targeting women. These internships are hotly competitive, but seem to really work for participants. As with the OnRamp Fellowship, most interns finish the programs with full-time job offers in hand, complete with compensation packages equivalent to their peers (measured by years of experience).
Let’s not kid ourselves; these are not altruistic undertakings by the corporations involved. It’s a way to get access to top-level talent, and then essentially vet them for a year. But we don’t mean to undercut their efficacy. Kristy How, an executive at Credit Suisse, believes the Returnship model gives the company access to “a huge talent pool of impressive women that is untapped and has so much to offer.” Her colleague Helena Fernandes similarly stated that Credit Suisse was “amazed by the quality and seniority of the applicants.”
Any program taking notice of the many smart, talented women who took breaks to care for their families gets a thumbs-up in our book. Let’s hope many other companies follow in these shoes.