As Thames Tideway Tunnel's new Returner Programme deadline approaches next Friday, Women Returners interviewed Tideway's Head of HR, Julie Thornton, to get her perspective on the business rationale for launching this innovative returnship, together with some information and advice for would-be applicants.
WR: What is your motivation for setting up the Tideway Returner Programme? What is the appeal of returning professionals to your company?
JT: As a company, we are looking to increase the diversity of our workforce and this seemed an ideal way of doing so. Thames Tideway Tunnel is very active with early careers activities, graduates and apprenticeships, and the Returner Programme gives us the opportunity to fill an obvious gap – targeting and encouraging individuals who want to get back to a career after taking a break. We see returning professionals as a strong female talent pool which we are keen to access.
WR: What can participants expect on the programme?
JT: They will experience a fulfilling role within the project, at an exciting time in our history as we move towards actually starting construction after more than 10 years of planning. They will also be fully supported by the management team to get them up to speed, have a dedicated mentor and receive expert coaching and support from Women Returners.
WR: Is your organisation expanding? Will there be ongoing job opportunities after the programme?
JT: In brief, yes. There are lots of vacancies currently on the project and there will continue to be over the coming months so this is an ideal time for people to join the project, get a feel for what we are about and apply for the roles they are interested in.
WR: In what other ways does Thames Tideway Tunnel support the careers of female employees?
JT: Our CEO, Andy Mitchell, is committed to achieving gender parity over the life of the project, and it is clear that to achieve this, we need to be a company that all people want to work for. We are focusing on getting the basics right, taking the values we promote, particularly flexible and inclusive working, through to practice. We also support employee-driven activities through our inclusivity forum, Encompass, which runs networking events and actively helps inform potential new policies or programmes.
WR: Do you see this programme as a one-off?
JT: No we are very much committed to making The Tideway Returner Programme a regular part of our overall resourcing and diversity plan. This is just the start of something we hope to see long into the future.
WR: How can people find out more and apply?
JT: Please visit http://www.thamestidewaytunnel.co.uk/about-us/tideway-returner-programme for more information and details on how to apply.
What advice would you give to prospective applicants?
A: If you are intrigued or interested, send in your CV because you have nothing to lose! Even if you aren't successful on the programme there may be other opportunities we can consider you for in the future.