5 Simple Strategies to Recruit Women Returning to Work

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Is your company grappling with a tight labor market? Your talent acquisition strategy could be overlooking an untapped pool of potential candidates: women who have taken time away from the workforce.

These women often face barriers when trying to reenter the workforce. For example, some hiring managers are still biased against job seekers with employment gaps on their resumes. However, actively recruiting women returning to the workforce creates a strategic opportunity by finding new qualified candidates for open roles.

Are you currently working to recruit women to your company? Do you know how to reach out to women and reassure them that you value their education, experience, and goals?

Keep reading to learn more about how to recruit women returning to the workforce.

Why Do Women Leave the Workforce?

While women have entered the workforce in greater numbers over the years, they still face unique challenges that can cause them to leave the workforce for a brief time or far longer.

Let’s explore some persistent obstacles that cause women to step away from the workforce.

Maternity and Childcare

According to Motherly’s 2023 State of Motherhood report, 25 percent of mothers are stay-at-home parents, up from 15 percent in 2022. While many of them want to stay at home, others drop out of the workforce reluctantly due to unavailable or unaffordable childcare.

There is also the reality that pregnancy, postpartum, and breastfeeding can all be physically difficult. Prolonged medical problems can also lead to mothers leaving the workforce.

Other Family Needs

Staying home with children isn’t the only family need that pulls women out of the workforce. Many become caregivers to aging parents or disabled spouses. Even if they don’t intend to stop working, inflexible work arrangements can lead to them making the hard choice to become full-time, unpaid caregivers.

For married women, they also might choose to prioritize their spouse’s career over their own. Families often move for a new career opportunity for one person, but that’s not a guarantee that the other spouse can find a new job after relocating. For example, military spouses have a hard time staying in the workforce because of frequent relocations.

Poor Workplace Culture and Discrimination

Ideally, women can enjoy a supportive and inclusive work environment, but that isn’t always the case. Women still face biases, discrimination, and microaggressions. These factors can add up quickly, contributing to a toxic work culture that erodes women’s motivation and confidence. In fact, McKinsey’s Women in the Workplace 2023 study found that women who experience microaggressions are more likely to think about quitting their jobs and more likely to be burned out.

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Why Do Women Reenter the Workforce?

Just as many circumstances can lead women to leave the workforce, multiple circumstances bring them back. Many women return to paid work once their children start school. Others never stopped looking for employment, but they limited their search to flexible work environments. Older women who might have retired early to care for grandchildren or due to health concerns in 2020 are now choosing “unretirement.”

Any of these women could be your next great hire. But how do you start recruiting women returning to the workforce?

5 Tips to Recruit Women Reentering the Workforce

Companies need a powerful recruiting strategy to attract women ready to return to the workforce. These job seekers are more likely to be apprehensive and willing to walk away from a situation with any red flags. Implement one or more of these ideas to improve your recruiting strategy.

1) Focus on DEIB Recruiting and Hiring

Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) should be incorporated into every aspect of your business, including the hiring experience. This is key to finding the most competitive talent. From writing inclusive job descriptions to setting up blind resume reviews, take care to minimize unconscious bias throughout the hiring process.

2) Create a Returnship Program

Also known as a return-to-work program, a returnship is a career re-entry initiative for people who have been out of the workforce for a significant amount of time. These programs often provide support and crucial resources for workers to improve their skills and grow their professional networks.

3) Highlight Successful Women in Your Company

Job seekers will look at your website and social media before deciding to join your company. Women returning to the workforce need to see that your company supports women.

Share their successes on LinkedIn and other social media platforms. Celebrate International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month. Feature key women leaders on your company website.

4) Offer Flexible Work Options

The Motherly report found that 64 percent of stay-at-home mothers need flexible work schedules to return to the workforce. Flexibility can include:

  • Flexible hours
  • Hybrid schedules
  • Self-management
  • Versatile workspaces

And be sure to communicate your company’s flexible work policies in all job listings!

5) Offer Childcare Perks

The Motherly report also found that 52 percent of stay-at-home mothers need affordable childcare to return to the workforce. Companies can help by offering:

  • Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts (DCFSA)
  • Subsidized on-site childcare
  • Off-site childcare stipends
  • Backup care benefits
  • Paid parental leave

These details should also be clearly included in all job ads.

DEIB Talent Solutions

Insight Global routinely wins awards for being a great workplace for women, so we know a thing or two about recruiting women returning to the workforce. Our DEIB team offers multiple training and talent solutions to meet your unique needs. Sign up for our free series on DEIB in the workplace!

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